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Challenge: Reducing Holiday Stress

5 tips to remain peaceful this Holiday!

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The holidays can be a time of joy or can be a time of stress. For some of us, this is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for, look for ways to give back to others, and celebrate family and friends in our lives. For others, the holidays mean added stress, pressure and counting the days till it's all over.

So much of the way we experience the holidays is reflected in the way we approach life in general.

I am reminded of this quote by Marianne Williamson

“Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we’re peaceful, life will be peaceful.”

If you are feeling less than peaceful, then it may be time to refocus your energy. Here are five tips to help you do that this holiday.

1. Don't believe everything you think

The holidays can absolutely bring on added stress and pressure which can lead to anxious and negative thoughts. There is a misconception that just because we have a thought, we need to believe it to be true. We get caught up in the belief that these automatic thoughts are truths and can feel unhappy and stressed which then affects our actions. Become aware of you thoughts throughout your day and identify which ones contribute to your happiness and success and which ones don’t. Just because something is in your head, does not make it real or valid. A great way to begin noticing your thoughts is through mindfulness practice. Take a few minutes to focus on your breath. Observe your thoughts as they come and go. Don’t connect, judge or get caught up in any thought, just observe. Practice this a little bit each day to help create space between thoughts and emotions allowing you to stop believing everything you think.

2. Take breaks from social media

It is so easy to compare ourselves with everyone else because we know so much more about each other through social media. We can learn who has finished shopping, who's family took the perfect picture or who has the most sparkly and full Christmas Tree. That knowledge becomes the measuring stick we use to guide the way we think things are "supposed" to be. It is easy to forget what we see on social media is not an accurate reflection of anyone's life. Set your own realistic expectations for yourself and your holiday and remember that there is a lot more you don't see behind other people’s "perfect" social media posts.

3. Forget Perfect

Nostalgia and romanticized expectations for ourselves and our families during the holidays can be tough to live up to. Reality can fall short of perfection and add to stress and conflict. Take a look at your expectations and how they can set you up for disappointment or frustration when things don't go as planned. Embrace things as they are and focus your attention and energy on good and the positive of the holiday season and less so on what fell short.

4. Practice Gratitude

What we put our energy on becomes what we see. If we spend a lot of time thinking about the negative things in life, we will begin to notice more of what goes wrong. If we spend time thinking of what we are grateful for, we begin to open up our experiences to seeing more of the good each day. Here's an easy gratitude practice you can do in a few minutes a day called Fill Your BAG Happy.

5. Practice Kindness

Take time to do something nice for someone else this holiday season. It does not need to be huge or expensive to be helpful. Simple gestures throughout your day can go a long way toward making someone else (and yourself) feel good. Give a compliment, hold open a door, buy coffee or just smile and say hello. If you can, get involved in local activities such as toy drives or other events. Kindness also includes yourself. Don't let the busyness of the holiday lead you to neglect your physical and emotional needs. Take some time to be kind to yourself!

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