I was recently asked to come up with a couple of wellness tips to help people reduce stress over the holidays. My initial response?
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two decades, you already know what to do to reduce stress, and you don’t need a “professional” to tell you yet again to slow down, eat right, sleep enough, and exercise. And if you are ambitious or health conscious, you certainly don’t need me to remind you to breathe deeply, meditate, do yoga, reduce sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake, etc.
Copious eating and drinking are holiday pastimes; two activities that often interfere with sleep. So there’s already an inbuilt conflict between holiday expectations and stress reducing behaviors. You probably know that the holiday spirit often gets squashed by pressure and expectation, but that may not stop you from squashing it with your ideas of how it should go.
It seems that trying to reduce stress over the holidays could be very stressful.
My advice for getting through the holidays?
When you hear that a big storm is coming, you decide if you are going to evacuate, or batten down the hatches. You buy food in case you cannot leave your house. You buy candles and batteries and water in case the power goes out. Then you surrender and watch the snow or rain with a mix of awe and fear and hope, and stay as safe as you can. Then you assess the damage, if any, and do what you need to do to recover.
This is the strategy I recommend to reduce holiday stress during “the most wonderful time of the year.” If you don’t evacuate for the season, then prepare for the storm of travel, giving, receiving, socializing and hosting, all of which can be glorious and stressful in their own ways.
Prepare. Expect to be stressed at times. Expect some family drama. Expect to be stuck in traffic, and find yourself rushing to buy or wrap the gifts. Prepare to eat too much and to be hungover. Go easy on yourself. And don’t forget to prepare to have as much fun and as much joy as you can given the circumstances, whatever they may be.
Surrender. Some storms, especially if you are well prepared, are not so bad. Others can take you by surprise and create devastation the likes of which you couldn’t imagine or prepare for. Naturally, when your sister arrives with her three sick kids, you’re going to be thrown for a wreath. Watch the storm. Be an observer, even as you also freak out and lose your patience, shove yet another cookie in your mouth, or curse in front of your kids when you end up sleeping at Kennedy airport instead of your in-laws while waiting for a delayed flight.
In an alternate scenario, you may Prepare for the onslaught of holiday stress in a thorough and playful way Click To Tweet And you could actually wake up on New Year’s Day feeling rested, refreshed and ready to take on another year! (Click here to download the blueprint for a conversation that can show you how).
Recover. Take it easy in January. Go back to your regularly scheduled programming and menus. Log what happened during the holidays this year, so you can prepare better or perhaps make different choices next year. Too much Grandma? Spend the holidays out of town. Too many Christmas cards to write? Send a fancy e-mail. Too many cookies eaten? Put an extra workout on the post-holiday schedule. Too many parties? Well, aren’t there always? It’s just that time of year.
Single for the holidays? Then you know a storm is a-brewing. Offset that storm with as much creativity, contemplation, connection and growth as possible, by joining the Holiday Singles Survival Camp — an online retreat to get through the season with grace, creativity and a vision for 2016.