The holiday season is a wonderful, magical time of year. However, at times, we can have such high expectations of ourselves. We have visions of a flawless holiday fantasy in our head that can induce unnecessary stress. So, how can we dodge the holiday stress? How can we ensure that we take time out and give ourselves a break from the hustle and bustle of the season? What strategies can we employ to refocus and fully live in the present moment?
Whether you have 15 minutes, 10 minutes or 1 minute, I found several ideas on line that you can try to potentially restore your sanity and help you to savor the season.
Be a uni-tasker – when you try to multi-task you potentially take on too much at one time. This approach can leave you feeling frenzied. Instead, focus your attention on the task at hand. Give yourself the freedom to be fully immersed in the experience before you. By doing this, you are mentally recharging yourself.
Create a holiday playlist – put some of your favorite holiday tunes on a playlist. Listening can help you feel merry and bright! Research shows that listening to music can crank down your stress hormones, lower your blood pressure and heart rate; thus, kicking your anxiety to the curb.
Make friends with Frosty – when was the last time you built a snowman? Making a miniature Frosty can give you a creative outlet. Getting outside and building a snowman can invigorate you, quickening your pulse and making you feel good. Exercising produces endorphins (happy chemicals in the brain) that can help you create a different mindset. Building that snowman can possibly help you “loosen up” and have some FUN before the holiday melts away!
Focus on YOUR vision – think about three holiday traditions that YOU LOVE the most. Pencil those things into your calendar and let go of the rest. Not saying or doing what we really want is what causes us stress. So, get rid of the stuff that does not fall into your vision and de-stress your life!
Speed Read – if curling up with a good book is something that you really enjoy, why not try something that may be a shorter, sweeter version of this enjoyment? For example, read a poem or two a day; pick a book like, “A Christmas Carol” and read a couple of pages at a time, or sign up for a positive email message a day. Doing these things may allow you some of the enjoyment of reading during a time of the year when extra minutes are hard to find.
Organize Something – when life feels out of control, organizing a drawer or something on a smaller scale may help you feel like you are “taking the reins” again and unloading stress.
Take a short-cut on those things that provide you joy – during the holidays our schedules must be adjusted somewhat. Many of us have gatherings to attend, host parties, host relatives for the holiday, etc. Just because you have these responsibilities, you do not have to abandon those things that in the past have provided you joy – just do a “super quick” version of it. For example, instead of a long call with a friend, just do a quick check in call to say “Hi”. If you enjoy spending time at Starbucks but don’t have time during the holidays – just do a quick drive through and order your favorite drink. Figure out what gives you joy and commit to doing it!
Throw open the curtains – gazing out at the natural wonders outside lowers our heart rate and brings serenity inside. Also, having some natural arrangements inside can provide us peace as well (i.e., pinecones in a vase, holiday greens or plants vs. plastic wreathes).
Press here for peace – feeling stressed? Try the acupressure move that is called, “Sea of Tranquility”. This move will send a “calm down now” message to your brain. How do you do this? With your 3 fingertips press down gently on the small, slight indentation in the center of your breast bone. Press gently for 2 minutes – then gradually release the pressure. This move will help deepen your breathing, help you relax and naturally release tension. It provides you an inner calm at your fingertips anytime.
Mistletoe Moment – Physical affection increases oxytocin and dopamine hormones and reduces stress. Cuddle hold hands and the cortisol (stress hormone) will melt away. Strong relationships buffer us from the effects of stress; that does not mean that when we have strong relationships, we will not have stress, but it does mean that just by virtue of having those strong relationships we are less likely to overreact.
Create your own calm – decide on one word that describes the holiday season for you (i.e., peace, joy, love, family, serenity, etc.) Write that word on an index card and post it somewhere that you will see it. When things get hectic, glance at the word to remind you what you really want. Cut anything loose that distracts you from that goal.
Say it ain’t so – we all want our holidays to be perfect, but life is not perfect. No matter how hard we try, something potentially could go awry (kids can create a mess, a meal burns, someone is not ecstatic about a gift you bought them, etc.). Remember – life happens, and all will be well in your world! Make sure your self-talk focuses not on things that are wrong, but on things that are right, positive and good. Remember – holidays are not about perfection, they are about family, friends, joy, laughter, sharing, etc.
I hope these thoughts provide you some ideas about strategies you can employ to destress your holiday season.
Enjoy the present moment – create new memories filled with peace, goodwill and compassion for yourself and for others!
Life is not measured by each breath we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. Life is a work of art – create a Masterpiece!!
“It is not how much you spend on presents; it is the time you spend together – value “the present” (moment)!