As the holiday decorations start to pop-up so do your stress levels, right?
Your to-do list is insane, whether you realize it or not!
Every year it’s the same…you feel like you need a month long zen retreat in Bali in January (I wish!) to fully recover from the holiday season!
However, the “most wonderful time of the year” doesn’t have to make you want to lock yourself in a closet until after the holidays pass.
It can be relaxing, inspiring, grounding connecting…
Sounds to good to be true and you don’t believe me? Read on to find tips and tricks I use to reduce my stress so I can experience a heart-warming holiday season.
Tip #1 – Simplify!
When you simplify the holiday season, you set realistic expectations (no more attending multiple holiday parties in one night!) and free up time and energy for the things that bring you the feelings you really crave.
The objective is to apply the rule of minimum goals.
What are minimum goals? A minimum goal is where you identify what’s the least that you can do to make yourself happy. It means releasing perfection of having to do EVERYTHING to feel happy. Anything extra you do above the minimum is an added bonus.
When you simplify and set these types of goals, it makes life a lot easier (which we need this time of year!). It removes the stress and guilt associated with always reaching and failing to achieve that “perfect” day or holiday that doesn’t exist.
Minimum goals help you find AND keep a balance between simple and sophisticated, time consuming and heart lifting, stress and joy during the holidays.
Create your own minimum goals:
Step 1: Make a list of all the activities and traditions you usually do or are “committed to”
Step 2: Answer the following questions about the list of holiday commitments:
- Which traditions provide the most bonding time?
- Does it bring me joy?
- Does it bring my family joy?
- Is it fun?
- Will an event function without me? Do I play a crucial role?
- Am I doing it because I want to or because society expects me to?
- If I don’t find it enjoyable or fun, what are the alternatives?
- Still not sure about an activity? Make a pros and cons list with weighted points (ex. spending time w/family is more important than having a massive light display).
Step 3: Cross off activities that don’t bring you joy and focus on the ones that will bring the most happiness.
Do you feel the need to send cards to everyone you know, with the perfect picture, and with the perfect message but you secretly dread doing it?
Don’t spend hours searching for the “perfect” holiday card that outdoes last year’s. Instead, send a simple, yet heartwarming FB message, email or text to the people you are closest to.
Do you feel obligated to display outside lights even though it just stirs up a big fight every year between you and your spouse?
Don’t spend hours on elaborate outside light decorations unless it truly brings you joy. Instead, do an activity that the whole family enjoys; decorating gingerbread houses, looking at other people’s light displays, ice skating, etc.
Do you have to prepare snacks for your kid’s party, hors d’oeuvres for an office potluck and a gourmet salad for your best friend’s holiday party (and they ALL happen al on the same day)?
If the thought of spending hours in the kitchen when you need to be gift shopping makes your head spin, simplify by outsourcing it. Find a caterer or call and place an order with your local grocery store (i.e. Whole Foods).
Simplifying is liberating, you do what truly matters for you, not what society expects from you. PLUS it will give you time and energy to really enjoy the holidays.
Tip #2 – Be Grateful
Being grateful doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time. The benefits, however, are enormous!
Multiple benefits proven by science include:
- Increased positive emotions
- Enhanced empathy
- Better sleep
- Improved self-esteem
- Increased mental strength
- Improved physical and mental wellness
- Increased resilience in the face of challenges
PLUS, saying thanks strengthens relationships, which is what the holiday season is all about!
Any of those things this holiday season would be helpful, right?! I know that by practicing gratitude it helps me overcome any challenges I come across (which I know there’s bound to be at least a few!).
So, be grateful for all the people, possessions, gifts, talents, moments, smells and parties your experience! Cherish the moments that only happen this time of year; it will be another full year before you get to experience them again.
Implement gratitude in less than 5 min a day:
Keep a gratitude journal
Step 1: Choose a specific time of day to make it a habit. OR “tie” it to a habit that you already have, such as reading before bed.
Step 2: Everyday write 3-5 things you are grateful for. Make them specific rather than broad (i.e. family vs. my kids were so happy and loving today with each other).
Practice gratitude in the moment
Step 1: Did something happen that made your heart burst with joy? Take a moment to appreciate what happened and savor the joy.
Step 2: Rinse, lather and repeat all throughout the holiday season and into next year!
Keep yourself immunized from greed, jealousy and dissatisfaction this holiday by simply focusing on the abundance you already enjoy.
Tip #3 – Breathe
Sounds obvious, right? You breathe all day without thinking, however, most people don’t know the real power of breathing.
Breathing is the spark of life, and the main tool to manage stress!
Your stress levels can easily spiral out of control with a never-ending to-do list.
When you are stressed, tired or feeling anxious you tend to take fast, shallow breaths. On the other hand, when you are relaxed you take slow and deep breaths.
Deepening and slowing your breath triggers the parasympathetic nervous system and tells the brain to release calming hormones.
Therefore, if you consciously breath slow, calm breaths, the stress melts away.
Take advantage of this connection by channeling your attention to the breath whenever you start to feel stressed and anxious.
Reduce holiday stress by breathing:
1 minute breath
Step 1: Set a timer for 1 minute or just take a moment to “be”
Step 2: Place your hands on your abdomen
Step 3: Inhale and exhale slowly; the slower the better!
Step 4: Keep track of the number of inhales you take.
One minute can change how you feel in your body and in your mind…
- It gives you the space you need to shift your thinking, your approach, or your expectations to a situation.
- It allows you to listen more and react less.
- It opens the door to possibilities and leads to better outcomes.
Whenever someone or something tests your patience this holiday season, take one minute to just breathe; it will do wonders for your mood!
So stress less and stay in the moment this holiday season by simplifying, practicing gratitude and breathing.
What’s one thing that helps you beat the holiday stress? Let us know on Facebook!
Need help to reduce stress and bring joy and vitality for your holiday and life in general? Let’s talk. Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with us.