De-Stressing Holiday Tips by Paulette Fara-Schembri

The most wonderful time of the year can sometimes feel like a 30-day panic attack. Let’s face it, the holidays aren’t all smiles and snuggles. Sometimes the holidays are downright stressful!  Here are some great ways to navigate through the tension and anxiety that the holidays can bring with some easy tips to de-stress during the holiday madness.

When the holidays roll around many of us have such high expectations for everything to be perfect. With this thought pattern comes a slew of anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed and extremely frustrated when things don’t match up with that flawless fantasy we have created in our minds.

 When you start feeling this way the best thing to do is to take a “time-out”. Make time to refocus your efforts so that you don’t want to knock off Rudolph’s red nose every time the lights don’t look just right on your gables. In 15 minutes or less you can create some time in your day to decompress and still manage to get everything done that you wanted to accomplish for your holiday celebrations. Here are 10 tips to try this season

1. Be a Uni-Tasker

Some of us amazing multi-taskers could use a little guidance in slowing down and not taking on too much at one time. Instead, the next time you need to do a semi-enjoyable task like mixing up cookie dough or making table setting name tags take that time to really enjoy the experience. Focus your attention on the smells, sounds, tastes and colors of your task. These precious moments will help you slow down and recharge.

2. Create a Holiday Playlist

Take the time to sit down and write out all your favorite holiday songs and then make sure you either have the cd’s handy or can put it into your iTunes or Spotify or listen to one of the many Holiday Pandora stations. Listening to music can decrease your stress hormones, lower your blood pressure and heart rate while taming your anxiety. Put the music on while you are doing those tasks that are not the most enjoyable, like stringing those darn Christmas lights?!

3. Have Fun With the Snow

If you live in a climate where you are lucky to get snow for the holidays take advantage of it when you are stuck in the house doing mundane items on your list. Take a break and go outside to build a snowman. It doesn’t have to be large, a small one is just fine. It will give your brain an instant creative outlet and the exercise will help produce those happy chemicals in your brain. So loosen up and take a break to be a kid again, or enjoy it with your kids and grandkids.

4. Focus on your Vision

Think about the three holiday traditions you love to do the most and put those on the calendar. The rest of the things don’t need to be scheduled. If they fit in great, but if they don’t, don’t worry about it. Many times during the holidays we forget to do the things that we really do enjoy doing with our friends and family. This is where your stress can elevate. If things don’t fall into your vision just let them go.

 5. Reading daily

If you love to read, but find that you don’t have the luxury during the holidays to curl up with a good book, shorten the task. Instead, grab one of your favorite poetry books or your worn Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and read a poem or a few lines from the book. Taking this time for yourself is as easy as a 10 minute break over a cup of tea and can really take your mind off of the next sheet of cookies you need to bake up.

6. Quick trip to bliss

Once the family comes to town or the neighborhood parties start your normal routine is shot but it doesn’t mean you should stop doing what you love. You just need to take a quick trip to your blissful place. If you normally go to your coffee shop and chat with friends, decide that you will drop in for a quick cup of coffee and quick wave or hug to your friends. Continue doing what you enjoy doing, just make it a little quicker.

7. Let in the Light

When the long days of winter come in make sure your curtains are open during the day to expose yourself to as much natural sunlight as possible. Look for natural wreaths and decorate with real pinecones and cinnamon sticks. The natural items will help lower your heart rate and create a calm, serene feeling in your space.

8. Press for Peace

When you are feeling agitated, frustrated and anxious, steal a moment to yourself and try a quick acupressure move to help calm you down. This is called the Sea of Tranquility. Find the tender indentation in the center of your breastbone and using three fingertips press down gently for two minutes. Gradually release the pressure. This will help you deepen your breathing but also releases tension. Don’t forget, you have this inner calm that you can access at any time.

9. Get under the Mistletoe

Physical affection has always been a great way to increase your levels of oxytocin and dopamine which are two hormones that help reduce stress. So grab your sweetheart and give them a big meaningful kiss or grab your kids and give them a big hug. Holding hands can also help melt stress away. Keeping your relationships strong during the holidays will help lessen the effects of stress.

10. Create your Calm

Decide on what word will help bring a state of calm to your stressed out soul. It could be Peace, Love, Joy, Family, Serenity or anything that you know will help shift your stress. Write it on an index card and tape it to your bedroom dresser or mirror so you see it. When things get hectic, take a glance at your word to remind you of what this season truly means to you. Cut loose anything that does get in the way of this feeling.

 You can only do so much and yes, something will go wrong, but instead of worrying about it or freaking out, take a moment and realize it’s ok. Repeat your calming word and remember how it will calm you. Holidays are not about being perfect, but instead they are a time to laugh, love, share memories and create new ones. Go with the flow and see what you can create this year.

Paulette Fara-Schembri
Paulette Fara-Schembri


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