‘Tis the season when stress rises to the top in people’s lives and for good reason. There are many factors that contribute to high holiday stress, the most common include: lack of money (and increasing holiday-related debt), the hustle and bustle of the season, commercialism, family drama, the pressure of giving and receiving gifts, staying on a diet and taking care of children. There is a strategy for managing holiday stress and it is three-fold: “self, save, serve”.
Take time for self-care. When you are feeling overwhelmed, reflect on aspects of your life that you have control over and that gives you joy. Also, schedule 5 to 20 minutes in your day to get physical. This includes maintaining a regular exercise routine as best as you can or use physical activity (such as walking), yoga and, or meditation. Give yourself a ‘time-out’ with physical activity of any kind for as little as five minutes. Give yourself five minutes at the beginning or end of your day (or when you feel overwhelmed) to try this stress-busting yoga practice. Yoga is a joyful expression of physical movement, breathing, and mindfulness.
Save money and calories by not overspending and overeating. If overspending is a stressor, set a budget and learn how to track your spending. Shop with a prepared shopping list and purchase a prepaid credit card to put controls in place for yourself. Avoid overeating by practicing moderation. Avoid skipping meals (for the sake of conserving calories) and instead, eat as healthy as you can. Do not skip breakfast as this will only increase cravings throughout the day (which will lead to emotional stress, moodiness, and overeating). Downsize your plate size and your glass size so that you consume less food and drink. Avoid going to holiday socials hungry and drink a glass of water before you consume alcohol or sit down for a meal. This will reduce your hunger.
Serve others as best you can, recognizing that this doesn’t require perfection on your part, it only requires the best effort. If you are a perfectionist, recognize that everyone else may not be, so do not expect others to meet your standards. Accept that their standards are for them. This awareness will help reduce stress for both you and them. Serve others by performing an act of kindness, perhaps to someone you know who is alone or struggles with the holiday blues. When you give to others you receive so much in return and it doesn’t have to cost you anything. If you doubt me, try it.
Stress-Busting Yoga Routine
These poses can be done in comfortable clothes, just remove your shoes and anything restrictive (a belt, jacket etc). Each yoga pose is designed to help relieve stress and tension in your body, calm your mind, center your focus, and help you become aware of your breathing. You will benefit from performing each pose as outlined in order 1-5 here. Once you arrive into the pose, spend 30 seconds to one minute in the pose while focusing on your breathing. Take slow inward breaths (through your nose), pause (to hold your breath for 1-2 seconds), then exhale slowly. Pause then repeat. As you breathe in, visualize energizing, white light entering your body in your breath. As you exhale, visualize letting go of the tension, tightness and negative feelings you may be holding onto, as grey mist. Give yourself permission to let go. Do not rush through the pose. Spend at least one minute in each pose (30 seconds each side in Eagle Pose). If you have 10 minutes, repeat the sequence again or repeat each pose twice. Incorporating this 5 minutes stress-busting yoga practice is an effective way to manage stress, boost immunity and beat the seasonal blues. What a winning prescription for stress management all winter long!