The holidays are upon us, which means your stress levels are probably rising. However, between shopping for gifts, attending events, and traveling or hosting people yourself, you don’t have the time to succumb, so instead, follow these tips to keep your cool.
1) Check-in with yourself and take small breaks.
As with the rest of the year, it is important to stay in touch with yourself and your needs. If you are in tune with where you are mentally, emotionally, and physically, you can proactively decide how to handle stressful situations without letting your stress spill out on those around you. Check in with yourself by asking: what do I need right now? Maybe you need a nap, to call a friend, order pizza for dinner instead of cooking, or go for a walk – remember to be kind to yourself and your body during this period of heightened stress.
2) Practice being present.
Whether you are getting ready for people coming over or eating dinner with family and/or friends, make an intentional effort to notice what is happening around you. What do you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch? This an excellent way to get out of your head and get into the moment…before it’s gone for good.
3) Try to limit your sugar and alcohol intake.
Yep, I said it. You may be thinking, “Are you kidding? That is what gets me through the holidays,” but the truth is, both sugar and alcohol can be a significant contributor to increasing the intensity of your anxiety, stress, and worry. Many of us can probably identify a family gathering that fell apart because heads got too hot from too much alcohol. Keep your head on straight, and you’ll be far better prepared to handle any issues that arise.
4) Managing Expectations.
Make sure your holiday expectations are realistic. It can be helpful to figure out a couple of things that would make the holidays meaningful and focus on enjoying those; trying to fit everything in your schedule increases the stress for everyone. No one really cares how the house looks or how much you spent on their gifts; they just want to connect with you. Connection is an authentic, meaningful gift for the holiday season.
5) Find some time to practice giving to someone else who needs something.
We are often so focused on our own busy lives it is easy to miss the needs that are all around us. Maybe it is giving of your time, energy, or a thoughtful gift, but a small show that you care can make someone feel special and help you feel less stressed about the small stuff. Try volunteering, spending time with an elderly neighbor, or buying some toys or coats for underprivileged kids. There are lots of options available to do something small with a large impact, and you’ll probably get something out of it too. Think of a time when you did something for someone else without any motivation behind it – you probably felt pretty good afterward! It is interesting how when we give to others the joy we experience completely outweighs the gifts we gave. Plus, giving is even better when you can share the experience with your kids, friends, or co-workers.
If you are finding this holiday season is triggering anticipatory anxiety, stress, and worry, talking with a counselor can be really helpful in developing a plan for how to best handle these challenges.
You don’t have to do this alone, I am a counselor who wants to help.
Attached Image: Getty: #607506736