Managing stress during the holidays
December 31, 2013
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to become stressed. A certain amount of stress is beneficial, providing excitement and joy. Too much stress can turn into "distress," which is unhealthy for the body and discouraging to the mind. Worrying about bills, complicated travel arrangements, annoying relatives or too much rich food can cause us to become overwhelmed. Here is my recipe for managing stress during the holidays to obtain optimal health in the midst of it all.
1.) Take time for yourself. In the midst of the busyness of the season, give yourself a time out. Decline invitations that are born of obligation. Listen to your own natural rhythms. Sit quietly and reflect on what has meaning for you. Spend time by the fire with a book, with your dog and with your loved ones. Practice meditation or prayer.
2.) Cherish the time with others. Attend only those parties or events that enrich your life and relationships with people you care about. Take time to let them know how much you love them. Call old friends. Send cards only to those you want to keep in touch with. Gifts are a way of expressing love and friendship — avoid emphasis on monetary value. Buy only what you can afford or make something special.
3.) Ask for help. Whatever you need help with, acknowledge it and ask others to assist you. It may be putting on a party or dinner. Those are big jobs, and we don't have to go it alone. Many people love an opportunity to assist. If at this time of year you get depressed or have lost a loved one, have a friend sit with you. Ask for prayers and good thoughts sent your way. See a therapist if you are seriously depressed.
4.) Take care of your health. Remember to eat healthy foods, veggies and fruits on a regular basis. Exercise even during the holidays, then let yourself indulge in your holiday favorites and comfort food without guilt.
5.) Practice gratitude. It is a time to be grateful for all our blessings: for the sun, the rain, the snow, friends and family. Our very breath is the gift of life itself. Live each moment as fully as you can and give thanks.
6.) Remember the true meaning of the season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, another holiday or none at all, this time of year is a time for reflection — a time to slow down. It is the winter solstice, a time of hibernation, of gathering around the fire. The trees are bare, the cold and snow sit quietly upon the earth. It is a time of faith. The bear goes into her den to sleep the long winter, and come spring, new cubs are born.
This time of year, so dark, is a time of pregnancy — nothing visible on the surface, the earth going deep into herself in preparation for rebirth in the spring. Likewise, if we listen to our bodies and our hearts, we can use this time of quiet to replenish ourselves in preparation for the New Year — and enjoy all the festivities as well. Happy holidays!
Marge Kaiser, M.A., C.H.T., is a stress-management consultant specializing in hypnosis for stress-related disorders. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-265-6649.