The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be a very stressful time. There is a lot going on, from family obligations to cocktail parties and work events, plus the regular day-to-day operations of life; it can be a lot! If you want to make the most out of this time of year, enjoy and be present, try these mindfulness strategies to reduce stress and bring a calm and attentive approach to your holiday this year.
Practice deep breathing. When that anxiety and overwhelming feeling creeps in, try taking a pause and focus on 5 deep breaths. Inhale 4 counts, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. This will calm your nervous system and change your emotional state. Do this throughout the day - I promise, it works!
Get your zzz’s. Lack of sleep increases cortisol - your stress hormone. When we sacrifice sleep, our cravings increase, and you may find it very difficult to stay away from all the tempting goodies around at this time of year.
Don’t neglect exercise. Keep your workouts scheduled in your calendar, meet with your trainer, and have shorter workouts if you’re pressed for time. You’ll feel more in control this way.
Keep a gratitude journal. In the evening or morning, whatever is best for you, write down 3 things you are grateful for in a journal. This daily practice will shift your thoughts away from the negative and force you to look more introspectively about the positive things in your life. Gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness.
Balance the “shoulds” with awareness of your own needs. Holiday obligations can be important but be sure to balance them with awareness of your own needs. Operating on obligations alone and trying to please everyone else’s expectations can lead to resentment and burnout. Rather than focusing solely on planning the perfect dinner or getting the perfect gift, observe how these expectations affect you. Make sure to take the time and space you need to nourish yourself in the meantime.
I hope that some of these tools will help you to be more present and enjoy all that the season has to offer. Happy holidays!!
Dena Ryde, Certified Nutritional Practitioner & Personal Trainer, Adelaide Club