This next statement may fill you will horror but…. it’s a handful of days away from THE HOLIDAYS! For those of us whose hearts begin to pound at the mere mention of the celebrations, the following are based on decades of working with the stressed out and overwhelmed…
First, it’s absolutely vital that we acknowledge that we are not alone in this ‘madness’, that the holidays come around every year come what may. There is no escape but there are plenty of tried and tested techniques to assuage the stress, anxiety and exhaustion that comes along with it.
In my experience some of these ideas can prevent and even eliminate much of the pressure we feel. Work through the tips below and start the process as soon as you can:
- Get Perspective: Accept that the holiday season is what it is and that it doesn’t last forever. Put it into perspective and tell yourself that it is just a few days and you have survived it many times before. Allow yourself to feel happy and confident that this year will be the best holiday yet! Stay positive!
- Planning: Make a list of everything you need to buy and do your shopping as soon as possible. Buy things you can put into the freezer ahead of time if possible. Most important: ONLY DO ONE THING AT A TIME AND IN ORDER OF PRIORITY. LEAVE THE TRIVIAL THINGS TIL THE LAST. DO NOT FLIT ABOUT FROM ONE TASK TO ANOTHER.
Focus on the task in hand and finish it before going on to the next. This is extremely important, and not just for holidays! If you don’t manage to get everything done, despite your efforts – ask yourself, “DOES IT REALLY MATTER?”
- Breathe: Every time you feel yourself getting stressed, stop what you are doing, sit down and take some slow deep breaths. When you feel calmer and more relaxed give your self a reassuring message such as, “I can do this. I’ve done it before and survived! This time things will be better because I am more organized and in control. I welcome the holiday with feelings of calm and confidence.”
If you get really anxious try the 7/11 breathing exercise: Breathe in through the nose for a count of 7 seconds and breathe out (also through the nose) for a count of 11 seconds. If this is difficult for you, try breathing in for 5 and out for 8. Practice until you achieve 7/11
- Think: Consider what has worked well before and make certain that you repeat those things this year. Think about what hasn’t worked before and be sure you don’t repeat them.
- No worrying: Do not allow yourself to worry! Worrying doesn’t make any sense and it certainly doesn’t help. Put a large sign up somewhere that says, “Worrying is banned” and smile whenever you read it. Then take 3 deep breaths, relaxing as your breath slowly all the way out, and carry on doing what you are doing.
- Relax: Try your best to relax every day for at least 20 minutes. You may know a method of relaxation, if so use that, but if not, just simply lie down (on the floor) with your body in a straight line, arms by your side, feet shoulder width apart. Now just let your thoughts gently come and gently go, watching your thoughts as they pass through your mind.
Another option is to go for walk every day, even when you are busy. It will give you energy and clear your mind.
- Getting Along With Everyone: Friends and relatives invited to your holiday celebrations are not always easy to get along with, plus some come with all sorts of issues and needs such as their diet. Here’s my advice where that is concerned: If there is something or someone you cannot change – then change your attitude towards it or them. The alternative is more stress! Simply accept that we are all different and that that is not a bad thing.
We all have different opinions, views and beliefs, personalities, and attitudes. We cannot change these in others, just as you would not want others to try to change yours. Similarly, use your best endeavours to accept that we don’t all like the same things to eat. Either buy something ready made from the freezer department for them, cook something different for them knowing that they will appreciate it (even though they may not tell you!) OR make it well in advance so it is out of the way on the day you are cooking for everyone else.
Finally, if it does frustrate or annoy you – breathe, relax and let it go. It is certainly not worth it spoiling your own enjoyment!
- If You’re Alone: This is always difficult but it’s not impossible to have a lovely and special day despite being alone. Try the following:
1. Think about it ahead of time and make a plan that will ensure you have the best day possible.
2. Think of everything you could do to make your day special because you deserve it just as much as everyone else. It is always possible to have your own celebration, and why not?
3. Think back to times when you enjoyed yourself. What has made you happy or content in the past? What do you really like to do? What haven’t you done for a long time that you would love to do or enjoy again?
4. Go out and buy, or have them delivered, or ask someone to get things for you. Here are some suggestions – your favourite things to eat and drink; your favourite film to watch on TV/DVD; a large bouquet of your favourite flowers; a box of chocolates; maybe something new to wear; get your hair done; pamper yourself on the day with your favourite toiletries.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
5. If you know anyone else who is going to be alone why not ask if they want to get together.
6. Helping others is one of the best ways to make yourself feel better! If you are able, why not visit someone else who is alone, or in hospital. The joy you bring them will bring love and joy to you at this special time.
- Celebrate: Holidays are meant to be celebrations - bringing joy and love to all concerned. You may not feel that this is true for you, as you may be the one that does all the hard work to bring enjoyment and love to everyone else! However, this year make a conscious decision that this year you are going to enjoy it just as much as everyone else. Make a firm affirmation and repeat it 10 times, throughout the days leading up to the big day.
- Secret Tip: When everyone is happy and talking or doing the dishes, go into the bedroom, close the door, lie down on the floor and take 3 slow deep breaths. Stay there relaxing and let your body sink down into the floor. With each breath you breathe out allow yourself to sink deeper and deeper into relaxation. Do not go to sleep! Stay focused on your body and mind relaxing. Enjoy the escape and allow a feeling of peace and serenity to come over you. Do not be tempted to feel guilty. They won’t miss you for 10 or 15 minutes. Enjoy it – you deserve it, and you have done well!
©2015 by Mary Heath. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com.
About the Author
Mary Heath has 30 years’ experience in the Private Sector and the British National Health System as a Stress Management Consultant, Counselor and Life Coach, working one-to-one as well as developing and delivering courses, workshops and seminars. She is a trained Yoga Teacher and has embraced other therapies such as EFT, CBT and NLP. More information on her website: www.maryheath.co.uk