Almost 70% of adults report feeling additional stress during the holidays. The important thing to remember is we experience stress every day including stress that benefits us like working out, or feeling your heart race while falling in love. To take the position that any day will be stress free will cause additional stress to your life. Here are five ways to reduce stress in your life not just during the holidays, but every day.
1. PERFECTION IS NOT AN OPTION- When I look back on holidays past, one of the biggest stressors came from my desire for perfection, which is a recipe for disaster from the get go. I would decorate the tree with the kids and then redecorate after they went to bed and a whole slew of other better homes and gardens delusional dos and don’ts. Had I not been striving for perfection, I would have allowed myself to live in-the-moment and every time I looked at the off skew distribution of ornaments I would remember the little hands that placed them there instead of attaching myself to the perfectly placed objects.
2. CONNECT TO A PERSONAL VALUE- Instead of setting a goal for what should take place, or what you should buy, or any other tangible thing for the holiday, instead remind yourself how you want to show up for the season, or any other time. This doesn’t mean you need to pull a Christmas With the Kranks move and skip the festivities. Connecting to your personal goal will pull you through some tough and sometimes stressful holiday moments.
Tangible- I want to purchase these presents for my family.
Value- I want to be present with my family.
No matter what is happening with your emotions, you can still connect to your value of being present with your family.
3. MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS- The holidays can bring more social interaction which can increase stress based on family dynamics among other things. Additional stress may be put on you in the workplace and it can also be a time of sadness and feeling alone.
Here are three tools to help you manage your emotions.
· Stay connected to the personal values that you set. You can’t control the emotions that come up, but you can choose how you respond. For instance, if I have created a personal value to be engaged in my life, I may not be feeling engaged in the middle of a holiday party, but I can act in an engaged way based on my value.
· Do what you fear. Fear is a strong emotion and there is no way to push it down or avoid it when it shows up. One of the best lines I’ve heard from Tony Robbins is that he is fearful, but he does it anyway.
When fear shows up, acknowledge it. Let it come along for the ride, but only as a passenger. Always remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. Start small and work your way up to the bigger obstacles.
· When strong emotions are taking over change your state. This means taking yourself out of the emotion and connect to your senses. Feel the texture of objects around you. What do you see? Smell and taste? This will allow you a time out from your emotion and help you gain some perspective before taking action.
4. SHOW YOURSELF COMPASSION- In those moments when you get caught up in trying to be perfect or you’ve let your emotions get the better of you, or had one too many Christmas cookies, practice self-compassion. Love yourself enough to speak to yourself as you would a friend. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break so you don’t miss out on the precious moments.
5. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF- Self-care is key to reducing stress.
· Plan time each day to do something just for you even if it’s a few minutes a day.
· Practice deep breathing for 5 minutes noticing what’s happening in your body. Where are you tense? Relaxed? Etc.
· Find 3 things to be grateful for each day no matter how small they seem. This helps you keep balance when you dip towards the negative.
You can’t control what goes on around you, but you can choose how you embrace the world. You can’t control the thoughts that sometimes float or sometimes scream into your head, but you can stay connected to how you want to show up in your life. That’s the greatest gift of all.