Hey there! With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to gear up for joy, festivities, and… let’s face it, a bit of stress, even eustress, is still stress on the body, mind, and spirit. But fear not! I’ve put together a guide to help us all navigate this wonderful time of the year without losing our sanity. So, buckle up, and let’s unwrap the secrets to a stress-free holiday season.
Prioritize YOU Time
Okay, first things first – self-care is not a luxury; as someone wise once said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care is a necessity. In the midst of holiday chaos, it’s easy to forget about yourself. So, I’ve made it a ritual to schedule some “me time” amidst the chaos. Whether it’s escaping into a good book, soaking in a hot bubble bath, a quiet walk, or journaling, find what works for you and make it a priority. I’ve learned the hard way, I might add, that I have to stop my body earlier than I’d like and have downtime every evening before bed. This long-practiced evening ritual sets me up for a powerful night’s sleep, which in turn reduces my stress for my tomorrow.
Real Talk: Keep Expectations Realistic
Perfection is an illusion. Let’s get real – the holidays aren’t about nailing every detail perfectly. Life is messy, and so are the holidays. Embrace imperfections because that’s where the real magic happens. Focus on being and creating memories with loved ones rather than stressing over Pinterest-perfect decorations. Years ago, I remember being taught by Alison A. Armstrong, founder of the Understand Men & LUX company, that we must learn to “declare enough.” It’s a powerful practice that has created an opening for much greater peace in my life, not to mention relationships.
Budget Like a Boss
The wallet often feels the holiday burn, doesn’t it? Create a budget that won’t leave you crunching numbers well into the new year. Remember, the value of a gift isn’t in the price but in the thought behind it. Financial stress is so last season! Compound interest is a real phenomenon that will follow you into the New Year.
Now, I want to extend this tip beyond your fiscal status and encourage you to remember your physical status, too. Your choices each and every day, each and every bite, each and every drink, will follow you into the New Year, too. What if we budgeted here so we don’t start the New Year feeling gross with 10 lbs. to lose?
Zen Mode: Mindfulness and Gratitude
“Inhale the good vibes, exhale the bad ones.” – Mindfulness mantra
When the holiday chaos hits, take a moment to breathe. Mindfulness is my secret weapon against stress. In fact, I’m blown away at how deep belly breathing through the nose, even for 15 seconds, drops my HRV. Heart Rate Variability is a measure of our Stress vs. Relax nervous systems. Practice deep breathing and see what happens to your body. If you have an Oura Ring or other device, you can track this easily.
Another tip here is – be present in the moment, and if that fails, a gratitude list can turn things around. There’s my point about gratitude again. It’s hard to be stressed when you’re busy being thankful!! If you want to learn more about how gratitude impacts your DNA, you can read last month’s blog post.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
“Many hands make light work” has been credited to an English proverb in the 1300s, yet it may also have been used in Greek and Roman days. With that in might, in our stressful world, I think this sage wisdom needs to be applied in our lives, perhaps more than any other time in history!
Don’t be the holiday superhero trying to do it all alone. Delegate tasks and ask for help. Trust me; people are usually more than willing to pitch in. The last thing people need or want is to be with you, or me, or anyone when we’re stressed out of our minds. LOL. Really! Just ask your loved ones and colleagues. Here’s another really important tip – if you let them know what this “favor” or “ask” will provide or how it will be a gift to you, you’d be surprised at how they are more than ready and willing to help if they can.
Move Your Body
Now, I know you know this. I know you know that “changing your state” or movement is good for you! I’m no gym fanatic, but I’ve learned that a bit of movement, whether dancing in the living room or brisk walking, can do wonders for your mood. In addition to helping metabolize your hormones, movement gets those happy endorphins flowing. So, move and show stress who’s boss!
Eat Your Stress Away (Mindfully)
Apparently, stress and nutrition are like frenemies. A well-balanced diet can be your ally in the battle against stress.
Amidst the holiday feasts, try to balance out the indulgence with some nutritious goodness. Eat several colors of the rainbow with each meal. And I don’t mean different colors of Jell-O or sugar-coated cookies covered in sprinkles. Have yourself a superfood salad when possible, and notice how you feel. Your body will thank you, and so will your stress levels.
The Power of No
Anne Lamott said, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” (See my previous blog post for more tips on saying no.)
You don’t have to be a “yes” person during the holidays. Learn to say no to invitations and tasks that will tip your stress scale. It’s not about being a Grinch; it’s about preserving your sanity. Trust me; it’s a game-changer. In fact, this past week it was a game changer for me. Someone called to see if I could substitute and teach Sunday School at church. Even though I love the Book of James and felt honored they would call and invite me, this person had no idea what else was on my plate on Sunday. They had no idea what the rest of my week looked like, or what my next week would look like. Because I said no, the accountable party posted on our congregational Facebook page. Someone responded and was “overjoyed” to teach the lesson. She was “grateful” for the gift of digging into the scriptures. For her it was a gift, for me, it would have created stress. Things will work out, even when we say “NO.” I love the advice of Brene’ Brown – tolerate the 30 seconds of uncomfortable feelings from saying no, versus the hours, days and weeks of resentment. Again, your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!
Conclusion: Wrapping it Up, Stress-Free Style
As we dive into the holiday whirlwind, remember that the true spirit of the season lies in the joy of being with loved ones, not in the perfection of every detail. Embrace the chaos, cherish the moments, and let’s make this holiday season one to remember, minus the stress!
In the words of Winnie the Pooh, “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” So, let’s embrace the quirks, savor the joy, and unwrap the gift of a stress-free holiday season together.
Happy holidays, my fellow stress-busters!
P.S. If you have an Instagram account, follow me over there for more teaching tips @LoriFinlayNP.coach.