Top 3 Strategies for Managing Stress During the Holidays
Growing up, we learn a lot of things in school. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to teach us how to adult very well, and we are often left unequipped to deal with the realities of life. Managing money, credit scores, dealing with smelly co-workers…there really should be a class on this stuff!!
One of the biggest things most people seem to be ill prepared for is STRESS. By definition, our very existence is stressful. As we grow into adulthood, gain full time employment, have spouses and kids, in-laws and pets, volunteer duties and chores, workout routines, etc, the wheel never seems to stop spinning and we easily find ourselves in the land of overwhelm.
There is no “right” way to deal with this, as we all respond differently. However, I want to share 3 strategies I have found helpful in my own life, and in the lives of some of my clients as well.
#1 Say NO!
I know many of us want to do all the things, all the time, with all the people. And during the holidays, that’s exacerbated even more due to a plethora of parties, gatherings, gift exchanges, happy hours, and family. Time is our most precious commodity, and we would all be served better saying no to more things, and prioritizing what’s really important. Of course you want to support Susan’s wreath making party on a Tuesday evening, but if you haven’t slept well, you didn’t work out, and you haven’t had much face time with your family the last two days, it’s ok to skip it…and you can let Susan know I said so (plus, you don’t really like her anyway;-)).
Say Yes to the things most important and fulfilling to you, and say NO to the rest.
We are surrounded by chatter from the moment we wake up until our head hits the pillow at night. Our phones, music, traffic, family, friends, co-workers, etc, are all constantly stimulating our minds. I hear more and more people complain of sleeping problems, and I truly believe those are caused by the incessant mental stimulus we are inundated with.
When was the last time you sat in silence for 10-15 minutes?
We need this downtime to allow our minds to relax, and to accept all the crazy thoughts roaming around and then let them pass. We need a break to just sit and listen (preferably in a quiet place…even if it has to be your car) to our surroundings. We need a few moments of time to ourselves to breathe deeply and remind ourselves life is beautiful and we have to stop to appreciate that beauty.
EVERYONE has at least 10 minutes to make this happen every day, and if you don’t, you’re wasting 10 minutes somewhere which could be better spent praying and/or mediating.
Come on, you knew I was going there! Look, exercise can (and should) be challenging. But the amazing benefits are a mile long. Increased endorphins, better self image, the ability to take out your aggression on a barbell so you don’t take it out on someone else. It’s a wondrous thing;-)
When we start to let external pressures (i.e. wreath making parties) interrupt our self care, it can slowly erode our sense of wellness and homeostasis. For those of you who work out on a regular basis, you know how short of a time it takes to get irritable when you haven’t moved your body enough. Too many people view exercise as adding to their stress, when in reality it can help alleviate stress in ways many other avenue cannot.
This doesn’t always have to be a long, drawn out process, either. Even a quick 20 minute circuit of body weight exercises done in your living room on a consistent basis can do wonders for your health and your stress levels.
As I said, not everyone responds the same way to these strategies, and not everyone allows life to stress them in the same manner. But when you do find yourself stressing out more than usual (which will happen to ALL OF US), I would encourage you to implement the aforementioned techniques for at least a week, and reap the positive benefits.