Good for you if you enjoy the Winter Holidays! It seems however, that you are in the minority. Between trying to please everyone with foods, gifts, your presence at their house and not the in-laws, travel and having to pretend to be having the best time, it’s exhausting! Not to mention being exposed to family dynamics that can get you down, throw you off and all that. We can meet up and celebrate life with family and friends anytime of the year so why do we have to squeeze it all into one day, week, month? Traditions. Blah. Break them and create your own that will make you happy instead of sad and/or stressed. Here are some ideas to stay true to yourself during this busy season (and the whole year through too):
Avoid Stress Triggers
You must know what these triggers are before you can learn to avoid them. When trying to identify what puts you over the edge it is helpful to make a list of these things, people and situations that trigger your stress/anxiety, sadness. Even if you only know 1 or 2, write them down and then plan your holiday time so that you don’t have to encounter them or at least minimize your exposure.
Don’t Schedule/Plan Too Much
If you are hosting the holiday event you of course must plan and schedule but consider trimming it all down. I come from an Italian background so everything is all about food, all the time. Over the years I’ve come to realize that 3 pasta dishes will suffice, no need to knock myself out making 5. Think up at least a few ways that you can minimize your planning and scheduling. Accepting invitations to only a couple of parties instead of all 10 you were invited to is one thought. Come up with a few more!
Consistently getting a full night’s sleep (8 hours) is essential when trying to deal with Holiday stress. Any stress really. Read here for tips for better sleep. Until your nighttime sleeping is deep and full try to sneak a nap in here and there. There’s no shame in it! Really! I love my naps.
Citrus fragrances boost levels of mood-balancing hormones, strengthen immunity, purify air quality. Purchase some essential oils like Orange, Grapefruit or Lemon. Use them in a diffuser or put a few drops on a cotton ball and inhale anytime you need a pick-me-up.
Limit Your Use Of Electronic Devices
Switch phone off as much as you can and don’t carry it with you unless you are waiting for an urgent call. Only check emails and texts once or twice a day at a specific time and watch/listen to limited TV/News. All the negative reports effect you more than you can imagine not to mention all the negative Electromagnetic radiation you’re absorbing from these devices.
Welcome Nature Into Your Life
The one thing I do enjoy about Christmas is the fragrance that the live Balsam emits through the house. (Of course you must plant a tree/trees in its place!) Any form of nature brings healing and grounded energy to you so as much as is possible, get outside and breathe the fresh air or bring elements of nature indoors in the form of plants, flowers, feathers, acorns, pinecones, leaves, etc. If the weather isn’t too abominable on Christmas Day, I’m in favor of taking a walk either alone or with whoever wants to join (as long as they don’t chatter the whole time!) after dinner and before dessert.
Avoid Crowded Malls/Shopping Centers
Unless you shop very early, before the mad rush starts I recommend shopping on-line. No lines, no parking problems, no crowds, no scurrying about only to find the items you want are not stocked. Shopping is such a soul crushing activity anyway and the poor air quality and constant sensory stimulation will wear you out in a snap!
It doesn’t have to be Holiday Music. Play any music that makes you feel good and happy. I enjoy a few traditional holiday tunes but the same tunes over and over is no good. Change it up with some Jazz versions , Trans-Siberian Orchestra , The Messiah or if none of this does the trick just enjoy whatever music you like.
Help Those Less Fortunate
Volunteering may seem counterintuitive because you have to schedule yet another thing to do but the feeling you will get from helping others will far exceed the troubles. This always helps to remind me of the true meaning of the Holidays and also just how lucky I am. You can do this alone or enlist a friend to go with you. Help others and help yourself at the same time by affirming your own blessings, which by the way, will elevate the more you put yourself out there and open your heart! You could also consider foregoing gifts for the family and instead donate that money to a favorite or worthy charity. Read: Other Ways To Give.
Take 5 minutes a day (the same time of day is best to form a habit) to breathe consciously. Sit or lie down in a comfortable quiet area and simply follow your natural breathing pattern, watching your breath come in and out. To shake it up try different breathing patterns like Square Breathing, or Counting Your Breaths, etc. Schedule a private session -(8th option down) to learn Breath Meditation techniques. Notice how calm you feel after this brief session.
Plan An Intimate Date
Instead of attending crowded functions, schedule a luncheon with one or 2 close friends in a quiet spot perfect for sharing and catching up.
As you know by now exercise reduces stress (and weight!) so do it daily during this busy season. You don’t have to hit the gym everyday but move your body in some way. Walk, dance, do some yoga or stretching. Ahhh… much better.
Manage Food Intake
Oh this can be a tough one! For me though, the stress of having to take the weight off after I gorge myself is worse than saying no to Canollis and Pumpkin Pie. Some things that help me to stay on track: Eat Mindfully. This means slowly and with awareness. Pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth, how it tastes, smells and feels. Drink lots of water throughout the day, especially right before your meals. Bring your own food! I know it seems rude but I don’t really care and neither should you or your friends if they respect your intentions for your health. Baggies full of veggies and fruits and nuts, water bottles and protein bars are easy, unintrusive snacks. Allow Yourself 1 Cheat Food Per Gathering (unless you have excessive gatherings!). Be reasonable and strike a balance.
My favorite suggestion to follow! Do something that makes you feel good. (Yes, it can be sex!) Things like Spa Treatments: facials, massages, Reiki Healing and bubble baths come to mind. Others may enjoy painting, reading or dancing. There are certainly ways to treat yourself that are within your budget. This will keep you less Grinch-like through what can be a difficult season.
So try a few of these suggestions and I’m sure I’ll see you all Healthy and Calm on the Other Side of The Holidays! Read: More Ways to Put Some Chill Time Into Your Life.
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Lisa Hassett, Reiki Therapist, Life Coach, CYT
Healing For Body, Mind & Spirit
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Waltham, MA 02451