Managing Your Stress Through The Holidays!

holidaysSo, I just went to see "Bad Moms Christmas" with my good friend and support mum, Sonal this past Friday. Managing  Holiday stress was one of the themes and we were in a movie theater full of women laughing hard. (I'm sure there was some stress relief going on there!) But I also came away with the message that we don't have to stress ourselves out during the Holiday- whichever one we celebrate. We really can choose to celebrate in a way that is more meaningful and less stressful to ourselves and our families. Might take some assertiveness and good communication skills but it's worth the attempt! So, here are some ideas I hope you find helpful...  

Managing Holiday Stress #1: Take a step back

Take some time out and a step back to identify the chain reaction of events followed by thoughts and feelings that lead to your stress. If its an endless "to do" list then use the W.A.D.E formula by Julie Morgenstern’s book "Time Management from the Inside Out":
  • W= write down each task you need to do.
  • A= assess the amount of time each task will take.
  • D= do, defer, delegate or just decide to delete the task from your list!
  • E= evaluate. Did it really take the time you had initially estimated?

Managing Holiday Stress #2: Establish a self care routine

  • Meals/snacks every three to four hours with protein rich foods to balance your blood sugar and colorful foods or a vitamin/mineral supplement to make up the nutrients lost during stress.
  • Hydration- 8-10 glasses of non caffeinated and/or non-artificially sweetened beverages.
  • Identify what you really enjoy about the season and make time for it.
  • Practice a sleep hygiene routine.
  • Plan your Holiday tasks around deep breathing exercises, massages, yoga and/or meditation.
Sonal and I, just attended a workshop by a group of lovely self care "gurus" at Carpathia Collaborative Wellness Studio here in Dallas and learned more about essential oil therapy, Qi Gong and meditation. Not everything maybe for you but I'm sure you'll find something!  

Managing Holiday Stress #3: Set Healthy Boundaries with Friends and Loved ones

This is a tough one because we're always fearful of hurting people's feelings. But its either our feelings that are neglected or we kindly but assertively express whats important to us:). And you may say "yes Nimisha but you don't know my mother, sister.. fill in the blank.." If you just cant do it, then use the following strategies to maintain a boundary and take care of yourself:
  • Imagine a place that you feel safe, secure and content.
  • This place can be real or imaginary.
  • Describe it verbally and make a recording on your phone or write about it in your journal.
  • Decide who is allowed in this safe place with you and who is not.
  • Imagine yourself as a young child or teen and brainstorm what you would do or say to protect that "space" from someone who is trying to enter it without asking.

Managing Holiday Stress #4: Check to see if your physical health symptoms are the source of your stress

Where in your body are you experiencing symptoms? How is your digestive tract functioning?      

Managing Holiday Stress #5: Feeling sad and missing loved ones you've lost

  • Remember joyful memories of your time together.
  • Plan a get together with family and/or friends to memorialize this person with the same or similar activity you enjoyed together.

Managing Holiday Stress #6: When friends or family members are disrespectful and have high expectations

  • Identify your thoughts and feelings related to this experience by using your thoughts and feelings journals.
  • Brainstorm what you would say to them as if you had heard them impose those expectations on a child.
  • Write it out and then read it aloud to yourself while looking in the mirror.

Managing Holiday Stress #7: Defending  that safe place in yourself as if you would defend a child.

  • You can say “No” to attending events.
  • You can decide how long you will attend an  event before you decide to leave.
  • Plan something fun and/or relaxing to do after going through a tough social situation.
  Challenge yourself this Holiday Season and create some space and energy for some truly joyful, quality time with your loved ones.