Welcome back! This is a continuation from Monday’s post regarding how to manage your stress over the holiday season. Okay, so we identified some of the reasons why your stress level may be heightened during this time of year; “duh” right? So let’s shift gears towards steps that you can take to counteract or avoid unnecessary stress not only during the holiday season, but also for every day life.
Pick up some new habits. While many formed habits can hurt, these are sure to help get you out of a funk, work out some of that stress-energy, and revitalize you towards pushing through another day.
- Sleep. Studies upon studies have shown the importance of ensuring proper sleep and obtaining at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night to allow for your body and mind to reboot. If you can’t see how getting even the minimum amount is possible, then work will need to be done to adjust other tasks, responsibilities, energy-draining habits, etc. This may seem easier said than done, but with an open mind and diligent effort, you can work towards the goal of well-earned and needed rest. If insomnia is your problem, speak with your doctor about what your options are for sleep aid medication, having a sleep study completed, and ruling out any health conditions that may be contributing to your difficulty with obtaining and maintaining a healthy pattern of sleep.
- Diet and Exercise. Probably sounds like a broken record; however, diet and exercise play an integral part in your stress-busting abilities. Like the Snickers commercial says, you’re not you when you’re hungry; but you are also not at your best when you are sluggish/tired and have no energy. Incorporating and increasing healthy foods in your diet, decreasing the unhealthy foods (now I didn’t say ELIMINATE your favorite foods, just to be clear), drinking enough water so that your body can flush out toxins, not overusing/abusing alcohol, and getting in some form of physical activity at least 30 minutes per day will do much towards helping your body and mind to be at it’s top level for performance. Make breakfast a priority as well to give you the fuel you need to tackle whatever comes your way in the morning and help you to stay focused and energized.
- Take time for YOU. It’s not about being selfish, it is about ensuring that your vessel is as well cared for as everything and everybody else around you. Incorporate something that builds your knowledge, your self-esteem/value/self-worth, your body, etc. This could be a variety of things that get the juices flowing back in and can help push the stress out; such as reading, yoga/meditation/exercise, knitting/crocheting, painting, writing/blogging/journaling, photography, listening/making music, etc. Something that requires your focus can also help to slow your brain from cycling through the stressors/frustrations that bring you down and allow you a short vacation to boost those feel-goods (serotonin; the happy-inducing neurotransmitters of the body).
- Get outside! Getting some fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your body and mind; and help to decrease those stressful feelings. Additionally, getting a healthy dose of sunshine helps to reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Laugh! Allow yourself to be overcome with the type of laughter that makes your face hurt, tears stream, your belly giggle, and promote good feelings within you. Talk with a friend or family member who is constant and consistent comedic relief, watch a favorite movie or TV show that tickles you, read articles/blogs from authors who have a knack for putting a silly spin on even the most serious of topics. Invite more joy in and push that stress out!
- Don’t overschedule/over-commit yourself. It is absolutely okay to say “no” every once in a while; especially when your plate/cup/glass is full and running over. Don’t know how you can possibly have the time/energy to do that favor for that friend/family member when you have so much else going on, or attend that 3rd party of the weekend when the 1st and 2nd about took you out; it is alright to respectfully decline or express that you just simply can’t. Again, it’s not about being selfish, it is about being self-aware to what your limitations are in that moment and will allow for you to re-center and refocus so that you are better able to be there for yourself as well as those who are important to you. Ask for help when you need it instead of thinking/believing that you have to do it all yourself. Also, prioritize and delegate wherever and whenever you can!
- Aromatherapy. The power of scent is something special. It can calm you, take your mind back to a “happy place”, help you wind-down for sleep, etc. Whether it be in lotion/balm form, essential oils, or a candle or wax; utilizing aromatherapy can help the stress of the day to float away while your body and mind relaxes. Some wonderful scents to try are lavender, citrus, Bergamot, Chamomile, Rose, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Jasmine, Frankincense, and Lemon. For the holiday season, you can incorporate pine, nutmeg, Cedarwood, clove, anise, and sweet ginger to produce a welcoming and relaxing aroma around your home.
- Connect with someone meaningful in your life. Perhaps it is your longest-known friend or a family member that you haven’t had the time to talk to/connect with in days, months, or even years. Make a concerted effort towards re-connecting with them during this holiday season; drop a letter (yes, snail mail is still a thing), call, send a card, etc. While you are reaching out and re-connecting with them, you are also doing wonders for them because of your missed presence.
- Pay it Forward. Doing something for someone else just because has a remarkable way of boosting your feel-good feelings and put certain stressors into perspective. It could be donating to the less-fortunate, leaving an anonymous Post-It note on someone’s desk saying something nice/special about them, paying for a stranger’s coffee, etc.; with no expectation of a return, can elevate your mood and help you to de-stress all at the same time.
- Let go of grudges and forgive. You aren’t doing it for the other person, you are doing it for yourself. Doing the work to let go of long-held grudges and forgive means that hurt no longer resides and there is space for something more positive/healthy to focus on.
- Be grateful. For every effort, gift, experience, act, and expression of loving-kindness shown to you. Be grateful for another day in this life and the opportunity to continue the work of creating the life you want to live.
- Make gifts personal, not expensive. If funds are tight and you can’t get that expensive gift your loved one or friend wants; try not to take it so hard. Focus your effort and energy towards making your gift-giving experience one that is personal/memory-making and encompasses the great things about that person and displays your love for them; because, that is what the season is about right? Or at least what it’s supposed to be about.
These are just a few of the many steps/strategies that you can take towards better managing stress over the holiday season and helping you to maintain and remain focused on the joy that this time of year can bring. Don’t let stress steal the joy and happiness that you deserve not only for the holiday, but every day.
Be happy, well, and stress-free!