Is the Holiday Season Beginning to Stress You Out?

Man running with a clock
Feel like you are running out of time?

Are you starting to see all of those holiday ads for shopping, meals, and travel? Are you feeling behind in your shopping and holiday planning? Maybe it is just the general pressure of the holidays? Is all of this activity making your heart beat faster and your head spin? Me too!

Try a little experiment

Can you pick the one thing that causes you stress around this time of year?

My brain when I am not organized

Mine is not being organized. It makes my head spin and my brain turn to scrambled eggs.  

Let’s get started

  • Write down (maybe use a Post It Note) what stresses you this time of year
  • Put it somewhere where you will see it regularly
  • Take a deep breath right now
  • Now a little reflection. How important is that stressor to the overall schema in your life, the world, etc.?
  • Make a plan to help reduce the stressor

Here’s how I do it

My version of how I deal with chaos (spoiler alert – I am still a work in progress)

My stressor.  Our house is in disarray and our life is more chaotic than usual because we are moving in early December. This combined with holiday activities makes my head spin.

The reality and the solution

  • Reality: The house is not perfectly organized and won’t be. Here’s a solution I can follow.
    • Make one room organized and that becomes the go-to space
    • Don’t worry about the rest – there really is nothing I can do
    • Breathe
  • Reality: The bills need to get paid – yep, that’s pretty important and there are some solutions.
    • Carve out the time to do it on a weekly basis, no excuses
    • have the bills in one location so I can find them (a challenge when you are moving)
    • Breathe
  • Reality: My exercise routine is thrown off. Here’s a way to salvage it a bit.
    • Carve out a little time each day to get outside and do some form of exercise, even if it is the 2-minute arm exercise I demonstrated on Instagram
    • Breathe
  • Reality: My weight is starting to go up because I’m not doing my normal exercise and not eating my regular food (the parties are beginning and the chaos of the move is not conducive to optimal food preparation and consumption). Here are a few things that can help.
    • Be mindful of the relationship between exercise, food, and drink
    • Drink more water
    • Breathe

Being aware of the things that make me feel scattered can help put them into perspective.  Moving was our choice. What I do for exercise, food, and drink is a choice.  So I will take that deep breath and take the time for self-care and hopefully make good choices.

Start now and make your plan for a better approach to the holidays

Planning your holiday schedule in advance is a great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed. From meals you are going to cook, places you need to go shopping, and parties you have been invited to. You may find it helpful to map out your schedule in advance and it may seem like too much to possibly accomplish.

Don’t be afraid to delegate certain tasks. Give yourself permission to say no to some activities that you know will cause you stress.  At the end of the day, your own well-being and that of your family is what is important. Remember, everything you say yes to that you didn’t really want to do prevents you from doing something else that you wanted to do and is more important.

Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves –Pema Chödrön

More helpful ideas

Give yourself an early holiday gift of a meditation APP.  I have two that I use and like them both for different reasons. They only take 10 minutes of my time and help me breathe.

Headspace – I have used headspace for several years and love the consistency and calmness of Andy Puddicombe’s voice and approach. You can do just 10 minutes of meditation or longer.

10 Percent Happier– Dan Harris, with his wit and sarcasm puts you at ease about meditating and helps you believe anyone can do it.  He interviews a variety of meditation experts and the meditations are led by many of these experts. This is a great app for those who think they can’t meditate.

Don’t want to drink too much?  Make your first drink a glass of water. Drinking is often social and we forget just how much we are drinking. For every drink, have a big glass of water, and slow down.

Want to control portion sizes? View Portion Sizes from the National Institute on Aging at the NIH.

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Sandi Feaster