“Tis the Season to be Jolly!”… I love Christmas and I love the lead up to Christmas. All my Christmas decorations inside and out are up. Just looking around my decorated home makes me happy. And, I am very much looking forward to having some time off over the holiday season.
However, this time of year can be very stressful as well. We are often stressed out about time ”there is not enough”. We have feelings of overwhelm as there is “too much to do”. We worry about the money we are spending and the accumulating credit card debt. We also get stressed out about having to spend time with family over the holiday season.
Stress is lack. Most often stress is related to fear, worry, doubt, frustration and overwhelm. Lack is in opposition to abundance. However, the more stressed we are and the longer we stay in stress mode, the more we attract an abundance of lack. Also, when we are stressed we are more prone to be emotionally reactive. This is not only emotionally draining, it can have a negative effect on our relationships.
So, it is really important that we shift to a more relaxed and peaceful state. To ensure that you attract abundance and not lack, put these tips into practice:
- One-Mindfully: in the moment
Do one thing at a time. When you are eating, eat. When you are walking walk. Where you are in a conversation focus your attention on the very moment you are in with the other person. Do all things with all of your attention. Much of our overwhelm comes from thinking about the next thing and the next thing we have on our to do list. Our minds are on auto-pilot and we are not focused on the here an now. When thoughts, strong feelings or action urges distract you, let go of the distraction and go back to what you are doing – again, and again, and again. If you find you are doing two things at once, stop and go back to one thing at a time.
2. Balance your priorities and demands
If you are overwhelmed, reduce or put off low-priority demands. Demands are those things that others want you to do and think is important. However, they may not be as important to you. Avoid overcommitting to maintain approval from others. Ask others for help and say no when necessary.
3. Balance your wants and should
A healthy lifestyle tends to balance wants and shoulds. Wants are those things you do because they bring you pleasure. Shoulds are those things you ought to do such as commitments and responsibilities. Too much of one or the other is not helpful. However, if all you doing are your “shoulds” then you are likely to become depressed, frustrated and angry. You can find more balance by asking others to help you with your commitments and responsibilities and saying no to unwanted requests.
4. Cope Ahead of Time
Spending time with family can trigger uncomfortable and painful emotions. If you know that this is likely in your case, take a moment to imagine coping effectively with the situation. Imagine all the problems that might arise, ie. , Uncle Joe gets drunk and runs off at the mouth or your mother gives you that disapproving look again, and imagine yourself coping well. Try writing a Script about how you are coping with the Situation.
Scripting: Pretend you are a writer and that whatever you write will be performed exactly as you write it. Your only job is to describe, in detail, everything exactly as you want it to be. Scripting is about talking about how you would like things to be. It helps you practice the feeling of the life you want to live. Make sure you put feeling and interaction words into your script.
5. Tend to Your Mind by Tending to Your Body
Remember the PLEASE skills
P L- Treat physical illness: Take care of your body. Rest if you need to. Go to a doctor or naturopath. Take prescribed medications as directed.
E – Balance your Eating: This is a hard one over the holiday season. It is a time of indulgence. Do your best to not eat too much and to avoid too many carbohydrates and sugar. Remember to eat regularly and mindfully throughout the day.
A- Avoid alcohol and drugs: Yes, another challenge. We tend to consume more alcohol over the holiday season. If you overindulge, be aware that this will affect your mood. The boomerang effect to a depressant like alcohol is anxiety. It might not be a good idea to schedule a stressful family dinner a day or two after overindulging. If you do, make sure you have a good Cope Ahead plan.
S – Balance Sleep: Try to get the amount of sleep the helps you feel good. The rule of thumb is seven to nine hours per night. Try to get to bed and wake up at the same time.
E- Get Exercise: Many people avoid exercising during this festive season. The thinking is “I will start in January”. I make it a point to keep to an exercise routine during the holiday season. It not only helps to burn off those extra calories you are consuming but, exercise is a great mood elevator and regulator. It will help to reduce emotional sensitivity and reactivity. Intense exercise will change your body chemistry. You can change your emotions by changing your body chemistry.
6. All the way Opposite Action to Change Emotions
When you want to lash out in anger at Uncle Joe for his drunken rant, act your way into feeling differently. Choose an opposite emotion by changing your actions, thoughts, facial expression body posture, what you say and how you say it to express just the opposite of your emotion. For example, take a time-out and breathe in and out slowly. Do something even a little bit nice for Uncle Joe. Let go of judgment. Practice acceptance. Breathe slow and deep. Unclench your teeth and hands. Relax your facial muscles. Put a half smile on your face.
When you find yourself tensing up, wanting to run away or avoid a situation try half-smiling. One of the most powerful ways the body feeds back to the mind is through our facial expressions. Emotions are partially controlled by our facial expressions. When we practice adopting a half-smile we can better control our emotions. This practice allows for an increased tolerance and acceptance of what is happening in the moment.
To adopt a half-smile, first relax your face, neck and shoulder muscles. Then bring a half-smile to your lips. Think Mona Lisa smile or the half-smile of the Buddha.
Self-Soothing is about comforting, nurturing and being gentle and kind to yourself. It is a way to prevent crisis, make it easier for you to cope and feel stronger. We can soothe ourselves through our five senses: Vision, Hearing, Smell, Taste and Touch. There are so many options. At this time of year, I love watching burning logs in a fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace find the fireplace channel on your TV. It can be equally as soothing. Listen to soothing music or nature sounds. Light a scented candle. There are many seasonal candles out there, a pine scented, cinnamon or cranberry scented candle. Enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream. Drink it mindfully. Pet your dog or cat. Get a massage or soak your feet.
9. Take a vacation from adulthood
Take some time out to regroup, refresh and replenish. Taking even a mini-vacation can increase your ability to tolerate distress. You come back to the stressful situation with a better perspective and a calmer disposition. Over the holiday season, I will be taking time off from my business to mindfully spend it with my loved ones and the festivities of the season. As a rule, I completely unplug from social media. This is what I need to come back in the New Year feeling rejuvenated. It is okay to let go of your responsibilities and doing. In fact, this is how you work the Law of Allowing and Detachment. Let the Universe take care of your responsibilities for a while.
10. Focus on Abundance
Think about all the abundance you already have in your life. Here in Canada, we have an abundance of water. We can turn on the tap and know that a flow of water will come out again and again. You most likely have an abundance of food in your fridge and cupboards. Some of you may have an abundance of clothes in your closet. I like to focus on the abundance I have and feel in my relationships. Especially in my relationship with my husband.
Abundance is who you truly are. Don’t let your stress cause abundance amnesia. Your focus on abundance now becomes a choice. And, there are an abundance of ways to connect to it.
Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays and a blessed 2020!