“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
“May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart!”
The holidays are here with family, friends, gifts and lots of tasty food. It can be a great time to just relax and enjoy the company of the people closest to you. But it can also sometimes be a source of stress and negativity.
So you may like a few tips that can quickly change how you feel and think. A few tips that help you to relax and turn a negative mood into a more positive one. Here are six of my favourite tips for doing just that.
1. Be grateful for two minutes.
Where you put your focus does to a large degree determine how you feel and think. Focus on the stress and how hard everything is and you will feel and think about just that. Focus on the positive things in your life right now and you will feel a lot better and think happier thoughts. Your day becomes lighter.
One of the quickest ways to shift your focus is simply to appreciate the positive things in your life right now. To be grateful for what you have. Maybe it’s your health, the snowy weather, your family and friends, the tasty food you will be eating, the snowman you made yesterday, the great and fun times you have had during the year, the wonderful things you accomplished and the lessons you learned when you things didn’t quite go your way.
If you’re feeling negative or stressed out use just two minutes in your day to reflect upon things that you are grateful for. It’s a small and quick thing to do but it can have a big effect on your mood – it’s hard to not feel like smiling after those two minutes – and how you view your life.
2. Take 30 belly breaths.
This is the quickest and most consistent way to relax that I have found so far. It’s great way to release pent up tension and to centre yourself in the present moment once again as you bring your focus to the in and out breaths.
Here’s what you do:
- Sit in a relaxing position with your legs apart.
- Put your hands on your stomach. Using your stomach breathe in slowly through your nose. If you are doing it right your stomach will expand and you’ll feel it with your hands.
- Breathe out slowly through your nose.
- Breathe in and out 30 times. Take deep and slow breaths.
- That’s it. Continue with your day.
3. Take it easy.
Nothing wrong about wanting things to be nice for the holidays. But if you are thinking that everything has to be perfect and it’s stressing you out, consider letting go a bit of that perfection. A nice and light mood within you and in your world is more valuable to everyone than having all the things lined up just right.
If you are feeling totally stressed out and wrapped up in everything you “have to do”, ask yourself: “Will this matter in 5 years?”. This is of course not an excuse for you to not do anything. But a reminder that the small things we get wrapped up in when we feel stressed are often not that important when you view it from a wider perspective.
4. Do just one thing at a time.
Single tasking and focusing on doing just one thing at a time not only decreases stress but from my experience gets things done a whole lot quicker than if you multitask. This does not just apply during office hours but is also a useful approach in just about every part of your life.
5. Eat slower.
The holidays is a time when many of us eat some tasty food and often a lot of it too. A wonderful way to enjoy all that food a bit more and also avoid eating too much of it over the next few weeks is to simply eat slower.
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. That’s because the food has to reach the intestines before your body starts sending signals telling your brain that you feel full. By slowing down your eating your brain can stop you before you eat too much.
One tip that can help you to slow yourself down is to put down your fork between the bites. Simply put down your fork and then chew. Then pick up your fork again after you’ve swallowed, take another bite and repeat the process.
I like this tip because it forces you to slow down. Instead of taking that stressed energy from your day and just letting it power through the meal too as you quickly wolf down everything on your plate.
6. Find the opportunity hidden within the problem.
There may be conflicts. There may be stress. There may be parts of the holidays that you don’t feel so good about.
One thing about problems/challenges is that we often focus on the bad part of them. But there is almost always a good part too. Or at least an opportunity within the problem. Perhaps it teaches us to be more patient or become more empathic.
Finding this more positive part of the problem reduces its negative emotional impact and you may even start to see the situation as a great opportunity for you. When you are faced with a problem during the holidays ask yourself:
What is the good thing about this? What can I learn from this? And what opportunity can I find within this problem?
Or try asking yourself (in any just about any situation): What’s awesome about this?
7. Just accept how you feel right now.
Maybe you try out some of the tips above. And they still can’t help you to shake that negativity you are carrying around. I would then suggest just accepting that it is there. To tell yourself: “This is how I feel right now and I accept it”.
This sounds counterintuitive and like you’re giving up. However by accepting how you feel instead of resisting it you reduce the emotional energy that you are feeding into this conflict/problem. It tends to just kinda lose speed like a car that runs out of fuel. And oftentimes it becomes so weak after while that it just moves out of your inner focus.
This may be a good time to use the first tip in this article to flood your focus with gratitude and positivity.
What is your best tip for creating a more relaxed and cheerful mood during the holidays?
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