By JoAnne Ceccarelli-Egan LCSW
The holiday rush is in full swing, does that mean you have to feel rushed too? Did you join in the “Black Friday frenzy? If so, what did that do to your stress level? This month, I am going to offer five tips to decrease your stress and help you have a more relaxed holiday season.
Do you schedule too much activity? If so, you might wish to identify what really matters to you. Look at your holiday tasks and choose to do the ones that bring you the most joy. See which “to do’s” you can ignore this year and remove three unnecessary responsibilities or social obligations from your agenda. Take some time and distinguish which activity is important and what is not as you adjust your focus to include the activities that bring you joy. While you are at it, take a moment and decide the difference between good enough and perfect. Are there some things that you could do at a more moderate level?
Move. Build some form of exercise into this month because it will increase endorphins and decrease stress. Exercise is also helpful when you are feeling depression, a common emotion during the holidays. Climb more stairs at work, do quick stretches, go for a walk at lunch time, make time to go to the gym or do a 20 minute workout session at home. As you exercise pay attention to the muscles that you are moving, it will help to stay focused in the moment.
Stay present to the moment. Besides being in the moment during exercise, do the same when you are out and about. Become aware of the holiday sights, children or nature that is around you. This focus will help you to be in the present moment and “still your mind” rather than overwhelm you with thoughts about the things that you need to do. When you are constantly worrying about future tasks and events, you tend to “catastrophize” and become overwhelmed. Instead, stay with the moment at hand and notice how you become inspired to take “doable” action steps to solve problems” says Judith Orloff MD.
Take a mini meditation breaks. Once or twice a day, stop for 3 minutes and take some deep breaths in and focus on something positive then slowly exhale and release the stress and anxiety. This short break will help you to calm your mind and relax during the day and before bed will help you to fall asleep.
Remember the “reason for the season”. Contrary to popular belief, Christmas and Hanukah are not about getting gifts! They are spiritual holidays. This year, try to be less caught up in commercialism and take some quiet time to reflect on what the holiday really means to you and your life. Allow yourself some quiet time to reflect on some ways that you could become a light for others during the December darkness.
L’Chaim is a common Jewish toast, when translated means “to life”. Sure, there will be challenges during the holidays, but when all is said and done, life is good. Allow yourself to take pleasure in the upcoming holidays and have your happiness be dependent on your attitude and choices rather than outer influences. If you look to outside influences for happiness, you will give your power away and become dependent on another. Practice the “Serenity” prayer. Change what you can change and release what you cannot, accept people and events as they are and just love them.
We’ll always be disappointed if we believe that we can plan for a peak experience and make it happen. True joy can’t be anticipated or planned. It just strikes.” Harriet Lerner
JoAnne Ceccarelli-Egan, LCSW shares positive strategies that will decrease stress and increase inner tranquility. Listen to her breakthrough CD which teaches you how to gauge your “emotional” energy and provides practices that help protect your inner strength. Develop holistic, healing methodologies that will empower you in self-improvement and personal development. Learn how to become more grounded while you create your own personal coping strategies. Sign up for free monthly self-help tips at tryanewperspective.com