Managing Holiday and Winter Stress
This winter and holiday season will be like no other! We are entering a time that is inherently stressful and this year adds even more challenges.
A conscious and intentional approach to how we manage our time and energy can go a long way to reducing stress. Starting with an accepting and creative approach is a good first step.
Here are some more tips to help reduce your stress throughout this season.
1. Be kind to yourself. All of the lights sparkling amidst the cold and dark nights remind us that this is a joyous time of year. Put yourself first and do something that makes you feel good everyday. When you take good care of yourself, you nurture your energy to be better able to face the challenges of life.
When we do everything for others first and leave ourselves for last, we easily wear down and out. Recharge and revitalize everyday. This might include enjoying a hot cup of tea, listening to some favorite music, going for a walk, taking a hot bath. Make it fun and do something different daily.
When we take charge of our time and energy, we are rewarded with having our energy build and stay strong and resilient instead of plunging into a deficit. When our energy is plentiful we are more apt to experience ease, joy, and happiness. We are more pleasant to be around and can help others relax and let go though our presence. Invite peace!
2. Give gifts from your heart and out of love vs. obligation. Everything you do contains some of your energy. When you give a gift to someone, truly give it out of love. Make or select something that you think would bring joy to the recipient. Hand made presents, delicious foods and gifts of experience are often welcome. The more love and joy you put into your gift, the more it will be felt by the person receiving it.
3. Begin new traditions. If the holidays tend to get you down because of all the things you have to do, think about what you would really like to do and how you would really like to spend your time. Many of our usual means of celebrating this year are not available to us so we need to be creative.
What is the bottom line motivating you? What is it you really want to experience. How can you get that experience in a new way?
Take some time in silence to listen to your heart. This is a good practice at anytime but it can be particularly helpful these days.
4. Take some time to center and ground yourself everyday. Begin each day with a short mediation, for 5, 10 or 20 minutes. Think about ease, peace and flow. Focus on whatever you have to do that day moving along effortlessly and in perfect order. Shop locally. Purchase conscious and sustainable gifts.
Our brains naturally have a negative bias. Research has demonstrated that our brains can change all the way to our last moments. This characteristic is called Neuroplasticity. We can with intention and focus develop new default patterns that are more positive and based in ease and happiness.
5. Engage a gratitude practice. Give thanks as if what you desire is already present. Use a gratitude journal and /or have short practices where you envision/feel the appreciation of whatever you desire.
6. Clear clutter to reduce stress. Clutter is anything you don’t use or love. It brings confusion and stress with it. When you clear things out, you are actually creating physical space to accept more into your life! You invite more ease and flow. Clearing clutter opens the door for new opportunities to come your way. Make it a practice to clear out the “old” before the “new” arrives.
7. Put some household items away when you decorate. Rather than just add holiday decorations to everything you have around your house, and squeezing them in, put some things away for a few weeks. As you take decorations out, tuck some of your knick-knacks and perhaps even some furniture away. It helps to quiet and calm your space. It’s fun to have holiday decorations all around. It’s more peaceful and relaxing for you when they have some space and are not crowded in.
Remember, the same goes for your mind—you will feel more peaceful and able to enjoy the holidays if your inner space is more open and clear and not filled with stressful thoughts and emotional turmoil. Relax, breath and allow yourself to BE in each moment.