Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beat Holiday Stress

by Glen Depke

Seeing as Christmas is only 5 days away, I am sure you are already engulfed in holiday spirit right?

Maybe if it's the spirit of the holiday Grinch I suppose.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones that shopped early, had everything wrapped by December 1st and all there is left to do is attend some exciting gatherings.

So what are the rest of us doing?

Running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Still looking for those last minute gifts, fighting the crowds, stressed about the cash we've already spent, stressed about family members visiting, worried about getting every nook and cranny cleaned in the house...you get the picture. I am sure many of you could add to this list many times over.

So here's some tips to turn these last 5 days into something joyous rather the stressous. Do you like my new word, stressous? Anyway here you go...
  1.  Breathe, yes breathe! When you are under stress your breath will become shallow and your fight or flee end of your nervous systems takes over. Yikes! This is no way to spend the holiday season. When you notice that you are feeling stressous, take 3-5 really deep belly breaths to shift you into the calming nervous system reaction. This plays such a huge roll in your whole body's function.
  2. Drink lots of water. We all know that there are many parties at this time of the year and often this leads to an over consumption of alcohol. ALWAYS have a large glass of water between every alcoholic indulgence and be sure to show up at the parties properly hydrated. 
  3. Consume a healthy snack or small meal prior to going out. This will ensure that you have proper nutrition already working on your side, keep you from indulging in too many sweet holiday treats and ensure that you will not be drinking on an empty stomach. That is a definite no, no.
  4. Be prepared that things often don't work out as planned but trust that they truly always work out. Due to the increase in people, places and things to do, this will puts us into the dependency of others much more significantly during this time of the year. If you are expecting the stores at the mall, Uncle Charlie, Aunt Harriet, or that perfect parking spot at the mall to work out as plannned...good luck with that. Remember that you have very little control of the things around you but have complete control of your reaction. If you do not set your expectations of everything working out perfectly, it typically makes it easier to take the challenges in stride. If you're one of my perfectionists out there, you know who you are, be sure to roll with the changes. BTW...that would also be a good time to breathe.
  5. Get yourself organized. Often with so few days left we simply begin to wing it and what typically happens when we wing it. We forget. Whatever it is that you have left to do over the next 5 days, write it down. When you are stressous rather than joyous, your memory often does not work as well. If you have a list, you can simply cross things off the list and release the stress. Unless you lose the list of course. LOL!
  6. Make your gatherings a pot luck. I remember my Mom on the holidays would do everything. All the cleaning, cooking and running around. Ladies, don't do this! Have others in the house help with the cleaning, somebody can make grocery store runs for you and for heaven's sake, have your guests bring a dish. I'll even give you a little secret, come closer so nobody else hears this, most people love to bring a dish and feel as if they're a bigger part of the gathering and feel included, loved, appreciated. You get the picture.
  7. Do chores in the party atmosphere of a group. Still working on the last minute holiday cookies, wrapping or one of the other hundred things to finish. Well, invite some friends or family over to help and create a party atmosphere. You will not only make your chores enjoyable but likely you will be assisting other family/friends by getting them out and having fun also.
  8. Take a time out. I know this used to be your punishment when you were a kid but as an adult a time out can be completely rejuvenating. Just 20 minutes in a warm epson salt bath can shift your day in such a positive way. This will assist with your mental/emotional state and leave you with some positive physical results also.
  9. Be sure to get enough sleep. So often we become sleep deprived during the holidays. Look at it this way. If you are rested and enjoying high physical energy and mental clarity, you will accomplish all your goals with much more ease and life will occur faster for you. Miss your sleep and everything slows down and takes forever. I'm sure you already get this, but how easily we forget.
  10. Lastly, when it seems like you have stuck in a stressous rather than joyous state, stop yourself. Take a few minutes to write a list of everything you are thankful for in your life and watch the joyous energy build. This simple tip can shift your entire holiday season. I know you have so many things in your life to be thankful for but it only matters if you know.
Instead of questions or comments to me for today's article, please share what it is you do to relieve holiday stress. The tip you leave may be the exact shift that somebody else needs during this holiday season. Remember the goal is joyous, not stressous!

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