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The holiday season is often thought of as a joyful time of year, but the reality is that most people experience more stress than usual during this time.  Stress in life is inevitable, but it sure seems to rise during this “joyful” time! 

Some causes of stress during the holidays include:

  1. Family and friends…not everyone has good relationships or even contact with their family members, or others may not have a large group of friends with whom they feel close.  Often this can cause people to feel isolated, lonely and/or stressed by the idealization and expectation that you “should” spend time with others during the holidays.

  1. Visitors…. Day-to-day routines, which often reduce our stress and allow us to feel more in control, are often disrupted by the holidays due to visitors or traveling.  Our structured routines being thrown off can disrupt our balance including eating healthy, getting enough restful sleep and making time for exercise.  When all of our day-to-day coping skills or routine behaviors are disrupted one can become moody, irritable or more emotional.

Now...what to do with all of this holiday stress!! How do you cope and stay in control? There is hope and solutions to all the madness!!  The idea is to have many tools in your toolbox to rely on in order to manage whatever stressors come your way. 

  1. Keep your life balanced and don’t forget about you!!
    • When we don’t take care of ourselves through healthy eating, exercise (it doesn’t have to be hours at the gym!), getting enough sleep, etc., we are setting ourselves up for our moods to be rocked.  This means we are allowing ourselves to feel irritable, moody and emotionally exhausted.   During the holidays it is hard to do all of the above things perfectly, but do your best to pay attention and notice your behaviors each day.  Are you taking care of yourself?
  2. STOP!!! Take a breath!
    • Give yourself permission to relax!  It is ok, even during the holidays, to give yourself some down time.  If you feel overwhelmed or like your head is spinning, take a break!  Whatever you choose to do is just fine…maybe you take a walk, read a magazine, take a bath, do some meditation or yoga, stretching, listen to music, watch a funny movie, take advantage of our established patient 50% Swedish massage discount…the options are endless!
  3.  Stay in the moment (Mindfulness)
    • Mindfulness is the skill of being aware of the present moment, including what is happening in the world outside of you and what is going on inside your thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Being mindful during the holidays allows us to stay more in control of our current thoughts rather than always thinking about your “to do” list that is a mile long, or how you wished you could have done something differently the day prior.  It is hard to stay in the moment!  But think about how much time we spend thinking about the past or the future and how those thoughts cannot change anything that has already occurred or prevent a future occurrence.  That is a lot of time and energy spent on things we can no longer control!  In reality we can only live one moment at a time, so stay in that moment and enjoy it!!

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg!! Keep building up your toolbox with ideas that will help you stay in control and feel the “joy” of the holidays.  You are only in control of you and your choices…make the most of them!!