Thoughts on Enjoying a Stress-Free Season
The holidays are a wonderful time to slow down, rest, and enjoy time with family and friends. Yet the reality, for most of us, is an overly busy holiday filled with stress. Not only are we all super busy preparing for the Holidays but we also have to contend with colder weather, dark mornings, and evenings. This year has been completely unpredictable, so the Holidays may look a lot different than we are used to.
However, the good news is there is a lot we can do to help ourselves feel better and, in the process have a truly happy holiday season. We all need to practice being more aware of why we do what we do and what we are thinking. Here are some thoughts on that.
What we do and who we are begins with our thinking process. How we think about ourselves and others affects almost every part of our day and can impact our relationships with both family and friends. Being mindful involves learning how to slow our thoughts down and make sure we are thinking on things that are positive and uplifting.
Try to find just 10 minutes of your time to take inventory of your thoughts. Try pinpoint thoughts that make you feel negative and work towards replacing it with productive, positive thoughts.
We all need to practice gratitude instead of focusing on what you don’t have. When you look at things more positively you start to see life through a different lens. This time of year can bring with it a lot of negativity, possibly some are recovering from grief and others job or income loss, especially this year. As difficult as it might seem try to end 2020 on a positive note. We have survived so far this year with all of its problems, fear, and concerns, and I for one am grateful that you are all here. Make a list of all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Think of both big and small things. I am grateful that my family are all OK, especially my parents as they approach age 90, and that every morning, I can stop by my local coffee shop and get my favourite coffee to start my day. What’s on your list? Look at your list every morning and add at least one thing to it.
Did you know that stress is the underlying cause of 80% of most medical concerns? Loss of control often leads to stress and this year has been one for the record books. Managing your stress levels is so important to allow your immunity system to work at full capacity, especially now. Holidays are often full of stress and expectations but don’t let that be your story this year. Give yourself the gift of a stress-free holiday this year.
Stress management always involves the basics: get enough sleep; eat well, including upping your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables to boost your immunity; don’t overindulge in alcohol, caffeine, or sugar; and do everything in moderation.
Now that you are possibly more mindful of what is causing your stress in your life, it is time to think through what can be done. Start by evaluating your priorities. What task can you let go off and what activities relax you and bring enjoyment to your life? The Holidays are a time when we can put too much pressure on ourselves as we try to live up to what we think others expect of us Make a plan to incorporate simple things into your day-to -day life. If the thought of trying to manage your stress, stresses you out, then you may need some extra support. Try some Bach Flower remedies Generally available in good health Food stores, they are easy and simple with no side effects. They are safe for children and pets. Find out more here.
Deep breathing is proven to reduce feelings of stress. It forces your mind and body to slow down and enter into a brief state of rest. If shopping overwhelms you this time of year, take some time to do deep breathing exercises before you get to the stores.
Start the day with the simple ritual of enjoying your first cup of tea or coffee of the day as you watch the tree lights twinkle; can set us up for a slower-paced, but more productive day. Never underestimate those moments of just focusing on what you are doing right now, rather than running through everything that has to be achieved in the next week.
One of the best ways to introduce mindfulness into your life is through meditation. Meditation does not have to take long nor does it have to include anything you are not comfortable with. Research shows wonderful benefits for both your body and brain when you meditate. The simplest form of meditation is just sitting still and focusing on your breathing, letting your constant stream of thoughts slowly fade away.
Giving and receiving gifts is a pleasure that many people around the world do not have the privilege of. If buying gifts makes you cringe, puts you in debt, or makes you resentful, you really need to reconsider why you are doing it in the first place. If gift-giving is something on your to-do list, make sure it brings you fun and joy. Be mindful of why you are giving. Simple gifts that are thoughtful can be just as welcomed as an extravagant expensive gift. I don’t know about you but I am more than happy to open a card with my favourite chocolate bar over pretty much anything else.
Mindful eating is especially important this time of year. Many of us eat too fast, eat while standing up or while driving. We are filling our bellies, but never really satisfied. When we eat slowly our brain has time to feel full and we eat less. When we chew our food properly, it can be digested easier, allowing our body to absorb the nutrients. Enjoy having treats this season, don’t feel guilty for it!! Just don’t eat so much that you can’t move. Give yourself time to eat slowly, savouring every last bite. Yes, this is party season, and while it’s ok to treat yourself here and there; eating and drinking way too much is never a recipe for feeling good. Even simple switches can make a big difference, such as alternating every alcoholic drink with water. If you know you are going to be eating a big meal in the evening, have a simple salad or soup for lunch. This isn’t about losing weight, it’s about giving your body a rest. Digesting a lot of food can make you feel tired and sluggish— just what you don’t need when you are busy.
Be mindful of disappointments. For some people, this year has been a wonderful time to slow down and if that’s you, enjoy it. For others, this year has been filled with disappointments, too many to bear. We need to be mindful of disappointments in our life, they can add up pretty quickly and before we know it, we are consumed in our despair. Acknowledge the disappointments you have faced this year and how they have made you feel. Find someone you can talk it out with and don’t forget to ask them how they are feeling too.
Be mindful of what you are consuming. Having mentioned what we are eating, let’s mention what you are hearing and seeing as well. What we consume on both T.V. and on social media affect our stress levels and can create negative moods so be aware of what you are seeing and listening to. Make room in your day to listen to something encouraging or read something inspiring. Often it is the little things that brighten your day.
When our minds are healthy and we are feeling positive, we can make room to be aware of the needs of others. Giving can create a feel-good moment that benefits the giver and the person receiving.
So do some little things and share the joy of Xmas. One of my favourite things to do is pay it forward when I am Starbucks. Ask the person behind you what they would like to drink and watch the surprise, followed by the smile on their face.
So simply being kind is one of the best gifts you can give to anyone. When we practice acts kindness our brain releases mood boosting neurotransmitters and our sense of wellbeing increases. Be mindful of the feelings of others and how you interact with them.
By enjoying a less stressful December you will head into the New Year healthier and happier. Now isn’t that the perfect Holiday Gift?
Written By Trish Green DiHom(Pract) B.Ed Cidesco Diplomat. Bach Flower Therapist.
Trish is a graduate of the Victoria University of Manchester, Trish is a teacher with 35 years of experience in the education field. For twenty of those years she has been an educator in the esthetics industry. She is an advocate for raising standards in education for Complementary Health Care Practitioners with special interest in Aromatherapy. Her career in the field of natural health and esthetics is wide and varied. From Doctor of Homeopathy to Cidesco diplomat, Trish is a dedicated professional, committed to ongoing education and the education of others.