How to Keep Your Perspective and Your Happy
We think it’s fairly well established at this point that it can be hard to stay sane over the holidays! Endless “to do” lists, family squabbles, cooking for large parties and so much more can drive a normally calm, cheerful person over the edge. But, with a little planning and some good tools, your stressful holiday can turn into a satisfying one that warms your heart and lifts your spirits. Here are some suggestions:
- Plan ahead. Nothing helps relieve stress more than having a solid plan in place. The Mayo Clinic recommends setting aside specific days for shopping, baking, wrapping and other activities. Plan your meals ahead of time and help prevent last minute scrambles.
- Know your triggers and learn to manage them. Most likely you have some sort of idea what aspects of the holiday season stress you out. Prepare for them by putting measures in place to manage them. And if the stress gets the best of you, step away and take 10 deep breaths. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel.
- Exercise. Exercise and other physical activities help to produce endorphins – chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers – and also improve the ability to sleep (see next tip), which reduces stress.
- Get enough sleep. When you are exhausted, you are more likely to be stressed. WebMD reports that not getting enough sleep affects your emotional regulation. When you are overtired, you’re more likely to snap…or burst into tears. So even though you have a lot of presents still to wrap, don’t stay up all night doing it!
- Turn on the music. There’s nothing like music to soothe a situation…or drown out a bickering family. Huffington Post experts report that your heartbeat aligns with the tempo of a relaxing song and that 30 minutes of classical music can produce calming effects equivalent to taking 10 mg of Valium! Or, just dance around the room for 2-3 minutes and feel your stress fall away.
- Automate your Christmas cards. Such a practical tip. Do you have personalized cards printed? Have them print the envelopes as well! Some places will even do the mailing. Or, go paperless and send a Paperless Post card out.
- Indulge. For many, the presence of holiday cookies, candies and treats can be very stressful. To help ease your anxiety, follow the 80/20 rule during the holidays – eat healthy 80% of the time, and let yourself indulge 20% of the time. Or if you know you will indulge, only eat half the treat.
- Laugh a little. When times get tough, Marlo Thomas recommends a little laugh to help ease the tension. “In addition to providing all sorts of health benefits – a stronger immune system, a boost in infection-fighting antibodies, a jolt of endorphins – laughter reminds us the most important thing about life: not to take it quite so seriously,” she said.
- Take a break. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – schedule in some time for yourself! The more burned out you get, the more stressed you will be. Help avoid unnecessary burnout by scheduling time in to rest, get a massage or do some meditating.
- Lower your expectations. When all else fails, lower your expectations. So much of our stress stems from our internal expectations of a situation. Go into the holidays knowing that things are not going to be perfect…and that’s okay!
We hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with joy, love and relaxation…and no stress! (Maybe that’s a little bit too much wishful thinking!)