Tag Archives: worry

12 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

christmas-lights-1435376-mIt’s time we all admitted it: The holidays are stressful. The average American spends about 42 hours on holiday activities. Money concerns and hectic schedules are typically the top sources of stress.

This time of year is truly magical. From Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Year’s, we spend time with family and friends, making delicious treats, listening to seasonal music and enjoying the spirit of the holidays.

Then, why does it make us so crazy? For most of us, we want the holidays to be perfect. We want to impress our families or make magical memories for our kids. Yet, if we turn into a screaming shrew while trying to decorate the tree and fix holiday dishes, it definitely takes some of the joy out of the holidays.

Here are 12 tips to help you manage your stress and create a truly enjoyable holiday season:

Lower your expectations
For those of us who tend to be perfectionists, we are stressed all year round. We set expectations for ourselves – and those around us – that are so high that it’s unrealistic they will be met. Then, we feel like we failed and become more anxious and stressed. The holidays only amplify these feelings.

What can you do? Lower your expectations and focus on what is realistic. Think about what really matters and simplify your to-do list. You will be able to accomplish what you want without sacrificing your sanity.

Take a breath and “let it go”
When you feel your mind is racing and things are out of control, take a deep breath and let it go. Focus on your breathing. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and concentrate on breathing in and out until you feel more relaxed. Let go of the things you cannot control and ask yourself if the things you’re stressing about really matter in the grand scheme of life. Most likely, they probably don’t.

Delegate part of your list
Another way to lower your stress level is to delegate part of your to-do list. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. You can delegate your house cleaning to a cleaning service. You can give everyone in your family a holiday job, such as putting lights on the house, wrapping presents or addressing holiday cards.

Get a handle on your finances
One of the most stressful parts of the holidays can be worrying about money. Your job situation may have changed and money may be tighter than normal. Doing everything you want during the holidays can put a strain on your budget. Set a shopping budget – know who you’re buying for and how much you want to spend on each person. Also, plan for extra groceries, decorations and travel expenses. If your budget is really tight, consider making homemade gifts. When you receive a handcrafted gift, you know it comes from the heart and it often means more.

Learn to say no
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to exercise your right to say no. People will understand if you can’t participate in every project and activity. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and anxious.

Switch up your traditions
You used to take the kids caroling and then watch old holiday movies. Now, no one wants to do it with you. You may need to make adjustments to your holiday traditions as time goes by. It’s not about the event itself, but spending time with your family and making new memories. Drop the stressful family traditions and do something simple, like having hot chocolate and waffles while you decorate the tree.

Practice peacemaking
Family misunderstandings and conflicts are only magnified during the holidays. Think of some ways you can head off any bad feelings or disagreements before they go too far. If you have house guests, consider planning time for you or them to be out of the house for a few hours. You can go to yoga class or take a walk around the neighborhood. Your guests might be able to visit other relatives or go see a movie.

Give yourself a break
It’s important to take time for yourself during the holidays. Block out a couple of hours every few days to rest or do something you enjoy. Treat yourself to a massage or manicure. Take a bubble bath with scented candles or read a book.

Eat well
Food is a big part of the holiday season. Make sure you are eating foods that help decrease stress. You can improve your mood and energy level with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, beans, fish and nuts.

Enjoy your exercise
Find a physical activity that will help you clear your mind and energize your body, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Dance around the living room to holiday music with your kids, play sports-related video games or do kickboxing. Go outside for a walk and soak up the sunshine.

Call a friend
If you’re feeling stressed out, call a friend to vent. Your friends can help you feel better and relate to your problems. Just be sure to return the favor and listen to their holiday woes.

Go to bed
While you may feel like you need to deprive yourself of sleep to get more done, lack of sleep can turn into a vicious cycle. The less you sleep, the more tired, out of sorts and overwhelmed you feel. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you don’t get things done, it can wait until tomorrow or not get done at all. You may need to adjust your expectations so that you can stay rested and healthy.

By planning ahead and preparing for the chaos of the holidays, you can keep your stress under control. Make it a point to manage your stress and enjoy the holiday season.

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12 Ways to Stop Stressing Right Now

I was riding in the car with my son, and the country song “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama came on the radio. He said, “Mom, that sounds like you.” The opening lyrics are:

I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

Do you feel like you’re in a constant state of stress? Rushing here and there trying to accomplish everything, until you realize you aren’t having any fun? I definitely have days like that.

If you’re stressed out and feeling like your life is out of balance, here are 12 ways to stop stress in its tracks:

Admit you’re stressed
When my son said that song sounded like me, I looked at my knuckles clenched on the steering wheel, hunched back and overall impatience. I realized I was stressed about fitting in everything I needed to do that day. Was it that important? Did I need rush until I was stressed out? Recognizing that you’re anxious, grumpy and just plain tired, you can make a determined effort to do something about it.

Take a deep breath
While you may not have time to take a yoga class or find a quiet place to practice relaxation techniques, you can take a few moments to just breathe. Breathe in deeply through your nose and then slowly let it out. Repeat a few times and think about letting the stress of the moment go. You will feel better!

Go outside
Taking in nature can reduce stress and improve your health. Go outside and take a walk or even sit in a peaceful place and enjoy the soothing sounds of nature. Spending time outdoors can put things in perspective and inspire a more positive outlook.

Laugh or smile like you mean it
A genuine smile can reduce your body’s stress responses, even if you’re not necessarily feeling it on the inside. Smiling can also lower your heart rate. Humor can help you relax. Read the comics in the newspaper, watch a comedy show or hang out with funny friends. Find a reason to have a little fun each day.

Do something for you
I spend all my time worrying about my kids, husband, work and all the things that need to be done to keep everything running smoothly. Take a few minutes to do something you enjoy – and that’s just for you.

Chew bubble gum
Studies show that chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. It may be that the rhythmic act of chewing improves blood to your brain. Or, it may just be that the smell or taste help relax you.

Try aromatherapy
Certain scents can sooth. Lavender is a common scent thought to help ease stress. I personally like the smell of honeysuckle. It takes me back to summer nights when I was young, sleeping with the windows open and smelling honeysuckle. Other scents may trigger positive or special memories for you.

Get moving
Exercise improves mood, releases stress and can make you feel better about yourself. Just 30 minutes of physical activity three times a week can positively impact your mood and your health. Exercise can also be meditative, allowing you to clear your mind and let go of whatever is stressing you out.

Make time for friends and family
Talking to close friends and family members can help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Telling someone your troubles and getting their input can put things into perspective. It helps to share your thoughts and be supported and heard.

Hug a pet
Spending time with animals can also alleviate stress. You can tell them your troubles, worries and fears, and they won’t judge you or give you unwanted advice. Animals can help your brain produce less of the stress hormone cortisol and more serotonin, which helps you feel more relaxed.

Rock it out
Music can help you let go of stress or put your worries aside for a while. The type of music is up to you. Some people enjoy classical music while others want to jam out to some old time rock and roll. It’s about being in the moment and letting yourself get into the music.

Read a book
I love to get lost in a great novel. I can shut down my brain and let go of distractions. I enjoy becoming caught up in the story. It’s a great way to relax, especially right before you go to bed.

Once you learn to recognize that you’re stressed out, you have the power to let the worry and anxiety go and find a more balanced, low-stress life.