How to Minimize Stress During the Holidays

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[hana-code-insert name=’social down’ /]“May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart!”
Eskimo proverb

The holidays are here. There are Christmas decorations in almost every window, it’s freezing outside and the huge amounts of snow is glittering in the sunlight.

The holidays bring a lot of things. There is great food, awesome presents and wonderful company as you spend time with the people closest to you. But there is also the stress and sometimes negativity that often comes with the holidays.

So you may feel the need to relax and let go of some negativity.

Here are four simple and effective tips for doing just that.

1. Slow down.

First, slow down. Even if it may feel silly and if you have to force it a bit. Slow down your body, move and walk slowly.

Breathe slower and more deeply with your belly (and focus on doing just that for two minutes and see what happens).

Slow down your eating (this will not only help you to relax, it will also help you to not eat too much during the holidays since it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full.)

Slow it all down and pay attention to what you are doing. Be here now and focus on doing just one thing at a time. By slowing down, by being here now, by not having your focus split between many things you, your body and your mind start to relax.

The stress you feel from doing the things does not come from the things, it comes from how you go about doing them.

2. Take it easy with those expectations.

Things take time. Especially around the holidays as stores, roads etc. are overflowing with people. It is just how it is and if you don’t accept that then it’s going to be some stressful and frustrated days ahead.

Take this into consideration when you make practical plans. Realize that things may take longer than you originally planned for.

And realize that even though that Christmas etc. is supposed to be a sort of perfect time of the year nothing will ever be perfect (not for long at least). Striving for or expecting perfection can be pretty dangerous.

Because you will never feel like you, what you do or what you get is good enough. Even though what you do, for example, is just fine 90 percent of the time you still feel deep inside like you are not OK. No matter what you do.

You have set the bar at an inhuman level. If you expect perfection around the holidays – or around any time of the year – then your self esteem will stay low, your stress levels will shoot up and you will feel disappointed even though things may have indeed been very good overall.

3. Tap into gratitude.

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.

Two ways of doing that are:

  • The two minute exercise. 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. Ask yourself: “what can I appreciate in my life right now? and “what can I be grateful for that I may have been taking for granted this year?”.
  • The gratitude journal. Basically the same exercise as above. But here you quickly jot down 5 things you are grateful for in a journal. Do this for a few minutes each day or each week. Review the journal whenever you feel the need. Very simple but effective.

4. Take a break.

Working nonstop can sour your mood and stress anyone out. Slow down but also remember to take breaks. Take 20 minutes or half an hour to just rest.

Take a walk in the crisp and cold winter landscape. Escape via music, a book you got for Christmas or by watching classic holiday movies/TV (I usually watch some of the best Christmas-themed Simpsons episodes around this time of the year like Mr. Plow and Marge Not Be Proud).

Do something that snaps you out of the working, shopping and preparing mindset, even if it is just for while. That short change in scenery and change of mental headspace may be all you need to feel revitalized again.

That’s it. I hope you find something helpful here. Happy holidays everybody!

If you found this article helpful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and Stumbleupon. Thank you! =)

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

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