We all want the holidays to be enjoyable, relaxing and a little indulgent, but sometimes the stress of having to do so much in a short amount of time sends us over the brink. We often feel pressured do it all – holidays cards, family fun, fabulous gifts, festive decorations, massive meals and party planning – with both grace and style.
Meanwhile, in a shrinking economy, you’re stressed about your bank account, waistline and good health. It’s easy to get caught up in the madness, but it’s also possible to manage stress with one handy tool – your mind. Stress isn’t outside of us – it’s inside.
Now you’re thinking
Every day brings us experiences that can either stress us out or not, depending on how we think about them. One person might react to a challenging situation with stress, while another person deals with the very same challenge and remains stress-free. If it were easy to choose not to let stress affect us, certainly we’d opt to be relaxed and cheery as opposed to pressured and fatigued.
To be stressed or not to be… is not as much a choice as it is a way of thinking – a perception that affects your choices. Changing the way you perceive life’s challenges changes your approach and your experience. Here’s how to put the mind over madness technique into action!
One thing at a time
Today, there’s the increasing attitude that time well-spent is time spent getting as much done as possible – checking email while conversing, talking on the phone while driving, eating breakfast while putting the final touches on a report and getting ready for work. Studies have shown that multitasking decreases the quality of work done, inhibits deep learning and – guess what – increases stress levels. It actually boosts the production of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which over time wear us down and can lead to premature aging. Instead of multitasking, consciously focus on just one project at a time. You’ll see how much more satisfying your work becomes.
Lose track of time
One great way to take the stress out of feeling like there are not enough hours in the day is to engage in activities that actually help you forget about time. Whether it’s drawing, dancing or playing music, scrap booking, running or even washing the dishes, this holiday season make time to lose track of time – allow yourself to engage in the one activity that you know will put you into a state of flow. You’ll be amazed at how this practice alone will change your perception of time and its value.
Focus on the positives
It’s not uncommon for people to exercise less during this busy season and to indulge more. For this reason, the holidays can be a stressful time if you’ve been watching your weight. Focusing on positives can be a helpful mind tool. Instead of worrying about over-indulging, focus on how good it will be to have your loved ones nearby. Make them your focus, and not the food.
Stay within your means
Food isn’t the only way we over-indulge during the holidays. Spending and worrying about debt is a major source of stress. This year, try not to let pride become mixed in with giving. None of your friends and family would feel good if they knew you over-extended yourself in order to get them that “wow” gift. Consider one present for the whole family – like a gourmet food basket – or a single donation to a worthy cause which you can let everyone know about in a holiday card.
Give a gift to yourself
While it’s excellent to be able to share in the holiday spirit with friends and family, travel and social engagements can be another source of stress. We often participate out of a sense of obligation, even when it causes us to exhaust ourselves. Again, less might be more. Send a card instead of visiting or simply pick up the phone and call. Over-booking your calendar can lead to fatigue and exhaustion, so make sure this holiday season to give yourself time alone for rest and reflection – make this your gift to you!
Be the definition of grace and style during this busy time. By reevaluating the way you think about the things that cause stress – whether it’s time, food or money – you can find additional insights into how to practice different habits and give stress a mindful makeover. Will you choose to think stressfully about the holidays or will you put into practice a little mind over madness? It’s up to you!
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