Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stress Less Holidays!

November and December are often full of extra demands on time, energy, and budget and while the intent is good cheer and joy it can often start to feel stressful!   When the to do list gets filled with social events, shopping for presents, writing Christmas cards, decorating, baking, and everything else that goes with the season it can start to feel like too much.  Then to add to the pressure we often create unrealistic expectations of perfection, happiness, and getting everything done.  Time gets short and self-care often gets shifted to the bottom of the list so sleep, nutrition, and relaxation suffer.  If one doesn’t take care, stress can take over!  And the fun disappears!

As promised, here are some ideas to reduce stress and enjoy the holidays!
The basic but powerful first steps:
          Make lists
           Do one thing at a time, don’t multitask!

And here are the other ways to keep the joy and manage your stress:

Rather than stressing over choosing the perfect gifts, remember it really is the thought that counts not the price or perfection!
  •           ask people what they want and save the stress of trying to be a mind reader
  •           shop early and plan ahead so you can enjoy shopping
  •           stick to your budget so you don’t create money stress later
  •           think about what you enjoy about giving… and plan your gifting accordingly 

Family gatherings are one of the times expectations can be unrealistic and create stress.  Plan ahead to keep the warm feelings flowing!
  •           if you love cooking, dive in but if not buy prepared foods 
  •           ask others to bring favorite dishes and share the workload
  •           cook and freeze foods ahead of time to avoid time overload
  •           think of food as fuel for your body, allow indulgences then get back on track
  •           don’t expect others to change but you can change your response to them
  •           simplify holiday traditions where it makes sense

Schedule time for enjoyment
  •          allow time for yourself. Remember to do things that you enjoy
  •          simplify and make plans to visit some family and friends after the holidays
  •          don't over-schedule yourself. Allow enough time to relax and recover
  •          think about the things that you truly enjoy about the holidays and savor experiences

Attend to nutrition and health through the holidays
  •        avoid overeating and overdrinking, but allow yourself to enjoy the things you really like
  •        don't starve yourself in anticipation of a holiday party but rather eat smart before hand
  •        take time to exercise, go for a walk after a meal, keep gym time on the priority list

Practice gratitude  
  •       take time each day to recognize good moments and things for which you are thankful
  •       volunteer or contribute to someone in need
Managing stress is important.  Short term stress can become chronic if not managed.  Long-term chronic stress produces an ongoing hormonal response that causes premature aging, adversely affects brain chemistry, compromises metabolism, brings down energy, stores fat (in all the wrong places), and ultimately can lead to the development of chronic disease.
My favorite sources of stress support