How to reduce holiday stress.
Holiday stress doesn’t have to consume your life for the next few months. Here are 5 ways to train your brain to be more resilient so you can actually enjoy spending time with your friends and family.
1. Start a Gratitude Practice.
Daily gratitude trains your brain to look for all the positive things in your life, and the benefits don't just stop at stress relief. Robert Emmons, one of the leading gratitude researchers shares, “We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits including: a stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, better sleep, feeling happier and more content, and so much more.
Any easy way to implement this is to take the Grateful 8 Challenge. Everyday, before you start work, write down 8 specific things you're grateful for. If you can’t think of 8, start with one and build until you have 8, or more.
Incorporating your gratitude practice into your daily routine, makes it more likely to stick. So you might think of 8 reasons why you’re grateful as you brush your teeth, drive into work, or before you eat dinner. Having a pretty (and perhaps even sustainably made) journal to document your gratitudes can make the process a little more enjoyable.
2. Start a Meditation Practice.
Meditation helps you flex your mindfulness muscle. Basically, being quiet for 2 minutes everyday, helps bring awareness to what kind of thoughts are popping into your head, so you actively choose which thoughts you want to associate with. This helps us become more compassionate to ourselves and others and makes it easier for us to respond vs. react to stressful situations.
3. Take time for Yourself.
Right eating, right sleeping, and right exercise can go a long way in keeping our mental and physical health in check. When things get busy these habits are often the first to go. Before the holidays hit, check in with yourself. How can you ensure you take the time to keep your own punch bowl full?
You might turn Sunday night into a personal care ritual — take a bath, read a good book, and listen to your favorite songs. Or maybe you invite a friend to grab tea before a weekly workout class, schedule a massage, or give yourself at home pedicure.
4. Let go of expectations.
(traditions, and the phrase, “but, that’s how it’s always been.”)
Change is an inevitable part of life. Holidays can be stressful for lots of reasons, but a big part of it has to do with changing how things have always been done. AKA: Traditions. As family dynamics shift, so does the need to create new traditions. Letting go of expectations of how things “should” be done or “how they’ve always been” and focusing on creating positive new memories can help to eliminate a lot of the mental stressors that go along with holidays.
That also includes letting go of your expectations of how people will behave, or how you will react to certain situations. You wouldn’t expect someone to treat you like you were 10 years ago, but as we come into adulthood its easy to forget that we’re all constantly growing and facing new challenges.
Try to meet people where they’re at without judgement.
5. Choose Fun.
The holiday are supposed to be fun. Embrace your inner child and allow yourself to be delighted with the season. Find ways to incorporate fun into process. Focus on the good vibes of it all. The same task with a different mindset can be a delightful, or a long and painful process. Choose to have fun and make the most of the season. You might go see a show with friends, invite friends over for a hyggleit movie night with fun holiday cocktails, go sledding, or try something you’ve never done before.