* Realize that some things are out of your control– We can not control the traffic, the weather or the actions of others. There are things that will go wrong and they are simply out of your control. Giving yourself the permission to let go of the control of managing every detail of the holiday season, will take the pressure off of you.
* Realize that some things are in your control – Often times the only thing we can be in control of is our own reactions and actions. Utilize what your strengths and coping skills, by focusing on what you can control, you will quickly notice that you are less stressed and more in control.
* Take a breather -Your breath is an incredibly powerful tool. The bonus of this tool, is it is portable and can go with you anywhere and used at any time. Practicing deep breathing will help you get in touch with both your body and mind. Aligning the two will help combat stress. Research indicates that practicing deep breathing can not only calm you down, but it can slow down your heart rate, increases energy levels, and reduces anxiety.
* Make a plan
-> Forget being a perfectionist– Part of gaining control over the holidays, is to let go of having every detail be perfect. Attempt to shift your perspective about what is important to you at the holidays, spending time with friends and family, or spending long hours in the kitchen for every last detail to be perfect. No one is grading you, judging you, or expecting you to be perfect. Take some pressure off of you and have fun with the holidays.
-> Financial- Holidays can put pressure any one’s wallet. Find ways to make a plan for what you can and can not do this year. Maybe hosting is financially too much this year, instead suggest guests bring a dish, like a potluck.
-> Family stress– Not all family stress can be predicted or planned. Discuss with your partner or family what you can and can not handle this holiday season. Ask for help from those who are closest to you. Delegate what tasks you need help with this year. Initiate when too much time visiting family gets to be too much, have a code word or a plan of action.
-> Alone and grief– If you are choosing to spend the holidays alone this year, surround yourself with things you love to do. If you are alone, and do not want to be, reach out to people who make you feel good or who are supportive. Grief and loss can be hard any time of the year, but especially difficult around the holidays. Try focusing on happy memories rather than unhappy ones. Keeping the chemistry in your brain filled with happiness producing happy hormones.
-> Boundaries– Learn your limits of what stresses you and stick to it. Setting your boundaries around the holidays can be difficult because sometimes we have to push back against some old family traditions and customs. Maybe a new plan would be to visit relatives for a few hours versus several days. Or visiting every other year, rather than every holiday occasion.
* Get moving- Research has shown exercise benefits your mood and your ability to tolerate stress. Find ways in which you enjoy moving, such as walking, running, a bike ride, walking a dog, going to the gym, or playing a sport.
* Laughter is the best medicine– While laughter feels really good, it turns out there’s a scientific benefit to laughter. Laughing helps us to reduce stress hormones, in turn making us feel better. Sometimes laughing with a friend, watching a funny movie or finding something funny online can help lift your mood this holiday season. Additionally finding ways to laugh about the things that went wrong, such as a burnt pie.
* Acknowledge your feelings– The holiday season can get hectic and we can forget to check-in with ourselves about how we are feeling. Take a moment to pause and think about how you are feeling. Are you stressed? Are you sad? Are you frustrated? Another way to check in is to do a guided body scan, oftentimes areas of our bodies can hold on to emotions. Take a second to ask, “what’s my stress level 1-10” and respond accordingly.
* Don’t abandon healthy habits – In times of stress, it is essential you take care of yourself. Especially before helping others. All the shopping, cooking, cleaning, family time, parties, and socializing can wait once you have given yourself a few minutes each day of self care. Basics to remember, Are you eating? Are you sleeping? Are you getting some exercise?
* Phone a friend – If you need someone to talk to, reach out to a friend. Sometimes, spending time with friends when we are stressed with the holidays can help combat the chaos.
* Turn up the tunes– No matter what kind of music you listen to, music can be a huge stress reliever. Choosing music that makes you happy or lifts your spirits is a great way to fight stress. According to research, listening to music you love relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow. This will calm you down and it’s good for your health.
* Learning to say ‘NO’– This one can be tricky and can take some practice to feel comfortable doing. Especially, if you are always used to saying yes to others. Setting your limits to what you can and cannot commit to this holiday season is important to managing your stress and overall emotional state. Start disappointing the right people for a change!
* Avoid over committing– Try not to commit to all holiday parties, shows, work commitments, kids plays and family get togethers. This can be easily overwhelming and time consuming. Over committing to lots of events also takes away from enjoying the moment and the quality of the relationships around you.
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