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12 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas

8. Take a tea break. Leave it to the Brits to prove that drinking black tea reduces your level of the stress hormone cortisol by 47% on average. Create a calming ritual by pouring a cup every day at around the same time. Make it extra special with a gorgeous mug or a black seasonal blend.

9. Drink up. 'Tis the season for eggnog and mulled wine. But don't forget water. Alcohol is dehydrating, causing you to function at less than your best. The reverse is also true: Being under pressure can lead to dehydration. Always keep a glass or pitcher of water on your desk or kitchen counter.

10. Support yourself. Try this acclaimed pose that can head off insomnia by relaxing tight muscles all over your body. Micki Ramondt, a yoga instructor in London and Philadelphia, suggests that before bed you lie on your back with your butt as close to a wall as is comfortable, legs extended up, hip distance apart, and heels resting on wall. Place a folded blanket under your pelvis for support and comfort. Stay in place for 10 to 20 minutes, then sleep tight.

11. Go fish. Top your lunchtime salad with canned salmon or tuna. Both contain cortisol-regulating magnesium, which can get depleted during hectic moments, resulting in headaches and fatigue. These fish are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent surges in stress hormones.

12. Appeal to a higher power. People who prayed before performing a taxing task—say, preparing dinner for 30—had lower blood pressure and felt less anxious than those who did not. Researchers theorize that prayer creates the sense of having a nonjudgmental and powerful support network.

Originally published in the December 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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