The holidays can be a time of great joy and happiness. I know they are for my 10-year old. She can’t wait for the BIG DAY to roll around. For her, holidays mean no school, sleeping in, TV time, and presents. Pretty simple, right? The rest of us tend to complicate things…big time.
Even for my friends who LOVE all the get-togethers and family time, the stress of holiday shopping, finances, and hosting relatives still wears them down. And when stress hits, it’s easy to turn to food (and cocktails!) for a little moral support.
Many of my clients stress about creating the “perfect” holiday and having it all. The perfect gifts, the perfect tree, the perfect house perfectly decorated. But we all know that perfect is the enemy of good and holidays aren’t supposed to be perfect, are they?
So, if you’re finding solace in a carton of eggnog each night, cope with holiday stress by choosing something else instead…like one of these great tips:
Get outside in the fresh air for a walk, hit your favorite group class at the gym, chase your kids in the yard, go to yoga class, or just dance around your office to your favorite 80’s music (yes, that’s what I do!). You’ll release some stress and the exercise will help release feel-good chemicals in your brain to make it all better (at least for a while!).
Stimulate your Mind
Instead of harping on the negative things that cause you to stress-out (like holiday shopping, yuk!), give your mind something constructive to do. Take 10-20 minutes to yourself every day to flip through your favorite magazine, work on a crossword puzzle, or do something else that stimulates your mind in an enjoyable way.
Everyone has favorite foods we only get to enjoy during this time of year, like eggnog and gingerbread cookies. And I say indulge in those once a year foods…mindfully. If you’re looking forward to scarfing down your sister’s famous elcair pie (a-mazing!), then focus on eating THAT — when the time comes. And just say no to all the other treats that show up in between that aren’t nearly as delicious, like store-bought cookies or dry fruitcake.
Forgive & Forget
No one is perfect. No, really…you’re not. So stop trying. Overdoing it at the office party or having cookies for breakfast happens…there’s no sense beating yourself up over it for days and days and days after the fact, or having it MEAN something (you’re not weak, you’re human). It happened. It’s over. Forgive yourself for your lack of better judgment and move on. Guilt and food regret are best served…never.
It’s scary how quickly sleep deprivation can affect your life. It can throw a wrench in your body’s daily upkeep, put you more on edge, and make you moody. And most people don’t even realize they’re doing it, especially this time of year. If getting 8 hours of sleep seems impossible for you, it’s time to think about what’s gotta give. Take a look at your schedule and see what you can adjust to get more sleep. If you’re cutting out on sleep to do that 5:00 am spin class, you’re defeating the whole purpose of working out. Getting that extra hour of sleep will make a bigger difference in your health!
Make a List (And Check it Twice)
I get it, feeling stressed is inevitable when you have a million things on your to-do list floating around in your head. Buy this gift, make a dish for the party tomorrow, call your mom, put up decorations…the mental clutter builds up fast. Instead of keeping it all bottled up, write it all out so you have a visual of what needs to get done (and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off completed tasks!).
And while you’re at it, create a YOU list, too. For every task you check off on your to-do list, do something for you from your YOU list as well.
Need some YOU list inspiration? Here’s mine:
- Foot massage
- Gingerbread latte
- Trapeze yoga
- Brunch with my girls
- TV time
Gratitude has become my secret weapon for stress. Whenever I feel the first tinge of “ick” coming on, I stop and get super clear about what’s truly important in my life and what makes me happy. It’s amazing how better I feel almost instantly. And I’m not alone, research shows us that journaling about what you’re grateful for makes you feel more engaged in life and helps you gather meaning from the things around you (which is perfect during the holiday season). Next time you’re feeling stressed, stop what you’re doing and jot down a few things you’re grateful for — I promise it will help you feel better!
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