GET ACTIVE: Taking the stress out of the holidays

Family gatherings, last-minute shopping and hectic travel — the holiday season can be frantic as well as fun.

A recent survey commissioned by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine discovered the season of comfort and joy is also the season of stress and worry. Seventy-five percent of respondents experienced stress from rising prices and holiday spending and 44 percent had travel-related concerns. National and world affairs as well as health-related concerns also ranked highly among stressors.

“The holidays kind of bring on this feeling of sadness and struggle when we really want it to be more of a joyous time,” said Nicole Hollingshead, a psychologist in the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.

Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, rest, relaxation and stress relief should remain a priority.

Head outside

Thanks to fresh air, cool temperatures and expansive views, a winter walk can bring peace to an otherwise hectic day. Research has shown people who spend as little as 20 minutes a day immersed in nature can reap a variety of benefits including reduced stress level, enhanced cognitive ability and improved mood.

From a leisurely walk with the family to a challenging hike that gets the heart pumping, local parks and trails offer countless options to clear your head and burn off some holiday calories. And hitting the trails costs nothing, making it a bargain.

Five Rivers MetroParks has self-guided Mindfulness Walks ( — which include simple breathing and meditation activities — designed to help improve your mental health while enjoying the great outdoors. If you prefer a more structured group hike, Dayton Hikers ( offer a variety of options from shorter, slow-paced beginner hikes to moderately brisk half-marathon hikes.

Break a sweat

A good workout does more than burn calories. According to the American Heart Association, workouts can relieve stress, tension, anxiety and depression. Making regular physical activity a part of your routine can lead to improvement in overall well-being over time.

But where to begin? How about a free class? Some fitness facilities offer trial classes before committing to a series. Others have drop-in passes, enabling fitness enthusiasts to try different classes without committing to a schedule.

The Roderer Shoe Center at Town & Country Shopping Center in Kettering offers a variety of free fitness classes on select Sundays including a Turbo Zone Fitness session from 10-11 a.m. on Dec. 3. What could be better than a free group class followed by some holiday shopping?

Practice mindfulness

Practicing yoga is about much more than the traditional poses. The mindfulness component of the practice can help participants of all experience levels manage stress, brighten their mood and improve sleep quality.

There is no one-size-fits-all practice as there are numerous traditional options as well as unique holiday offerings. Try Wine and Yoga Wednesday at The Brightside ( on Dec. 6 or a Yogi Create & Flow: Yoga & Ornament Making Workshop at Day Yoga ( on Dec. 8. You can also take relaxation to the next level at the Rest + Restore: Restorative Yoga class at Speakeasy Yoga ( on Dec. 15.

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