Friday, November 14, 2008

3 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress this Year

With all the doom and gloom happening in the world these days, it makes the upcoming holidays feel that much more stressful. So we wanted to offer some tips for alleviating some of your holiday stress this year.

Focus on Gratitude

When you sit down with your family at the holidays, take time out to tell each other what you are thankful for. This sounds like a no brainer – it’s Thanksgiving, after all. But because everyone has been so focused on the negativity that has been happening in the world, I think this is something we all forget to do. So:

  • Recognize that there are opportunities to grow and expand during these difficult times. As one of my favorite speakers, Tara Brach, recently said: “Stress is universal. The difference between getting caught in the trance of suffering and having a sense of freedom is how we respond to it. The glib phrase is, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional."

Family Survival Skills

The next set of tips come from Dr. Dale Atkins from "Sanity Savers", part of our Holiday Survival Guide program, particularly helpful for those of us with less than perfect families. Be realistic, but there are things that you can do to have a happy successful and warm holiday:

  • Make an effort to avoid troublesome yet familiar communication patterns. If you avoid playing games, then you can avoid the negative pattern of keeping score. You need to do what you think is right or appropriate no matter what family members do

  • Spend time getting to know your family members’ histories. Take an interest in them and get to know their personal stories. Ask family members to recall times when they were most happy or most content, the most engaged or the most happy. Find out key aspects of these people that you never knew
  • For more advice on navigating family relationships, try Marianne Williamson’s inspiring program Functional Relationships or Deborah Tannen’s great interview on how we talk to each other: Stop Arguing and Start Talking.

Take Care of Yourself

Stress takes an extreme toll on our bodies and our minds, so it’s important to take extra care of ourselves during trying times:

  • Meditation is a great way to focus your mind away from negative thought patterns. Just the practice of sitting and focusing your mind on your breath will give you a sense of calmness and it will center you for the challenges of the day. A meditation that I have recently discovered, the “Efflex Empowerment Meditation”, left me feeling both relaxed and hopeful about my future.
  • Keeping your body moving is a great way to combat stress. One of my favorite fitness trainers these days is Patricia Moreno. Her workout, “Great Body & Great Life” combines fitness with positive affirmations. I actually look forward to her workouts, because it makes me feel so good both physically & mentally.

If you have any holiday stress relieving tips, we’d love to hear from you! Please share your tips by commenting below.