December 17, 2018


The holiday season can truly be the most wonderful time of the year. A time for goodwill, giving, feasting, and celebrating. But all the goodwill and festivity can come with a price: stress. As much as we might love the holiday season, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be at our best and make things perfect for everyone around us.  With the gifting, decorating, cooking, celebrating, travel, family stress (no politics at the table, please!), and financial strain and the holidays can start to lose their sparkle. All that stress makes our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol can cause anxiety, depression, headache, and fatigue, among other symptoms. That’s nobody’s idea of jolly (unless you’re related to the Grinch).

Here are 5 simple ways to replace your holiday stress with peace:

  1. Start your day with a moment of contemplation. Instead of jumping out of bed and tackling your to-do list, take a few moments to center yourself in the true spirit of the season. You might find peace in yoga, running, journaling, or sitting meditation, for example. Just a few minutes of quiet reflection can help you start your day with a sense of calm, gratitude and a focused mind;
  2. Give yourself the gift of “no.” It may seem counterintuitive — it is the giving season after all — but saying no to some of the requests and invitations you receive can actually help you give more of yourself. It may seem like everybody needs your help or presence, from your family, kid’s classrooms, volunteer organizations and friends. And then the parties, potlucks, and gift exchanges too? Nobody wants to look like a Scrooge, but if you try to do it all you’ll likely end up overly tired and more susceptible to the bacteria and viruses that get passed around like your great-aunt’s fruitcake. When you’re overextended or sick, you can’t be your best or give your best. Pick a few activities that are most important to you and politely turn down the rest. You’ll feel less stress and be happier all around.
  3. Love yourself. If your sister can bake 12 dozen cookies with a baby in one arm while on a conference call planning a corporate takeover… let her. You do you. Maybe you’re the mixologist at every party, or the one who keeps the nieces and nephews entertained. Maybe you’re the quiet presence that brings comfort to those around you. You have gifts to share without comparing yourself to anyone else. Let your light shine.
  4. Take mindfulness moments throughout the day. When we’re busy we often run on autopilot, mindlessly doing all the things that need to be done. Our minds get overloaded and stress starts to take over. When you have a few moments to yourself (except while driving) you can take a mindful moment and unclutter your mind. Relax, take a few deep breaths, and try to quiet your mind. Focus on a pleasant image or sound, and just breathe. If you’re eating, focus on enjoying your food. Not only will you enjoy your surroundings more, but when you do resume your day, you will feel more relaxed and focused.
  5. Be kind to others. It sounds overly simple, but a smallest kindness can have a profound impact on someone else. It only takes a moment to smile and acknowledge the person standing next to you, yet that single moment might mean the world to someone who feels lonely. And somehow, giving kindness feels just as good as receiving it.

Remember to try and find balance and enjoy the holiday season!

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