- Shopping. Sit down with the family and schedule the days and times you will do your shopping at the beginning of the holiday season. This limits everyone from frequently asking when they are going shopping and will help you schedule shopping according to your family’s busy schedule. This stops the anxiety, arguments and constant questions of “when are we going?”
- Tired Kids. Knowing your children’s daily rhythm is critical. Schedule activities during your child’s “up” times, not during nap times. Know what food is available at the mall’s food court, so you are prepared when your child gets hungry and thirsty. You might want to carry a favorite snack with you in a zip lock bag. This prevents discord in the family because of one member of the family.
- Financial Concerns. At the beginning of the holiday season create a folder for each holiday. Sit down as a family and make a sheet of paper for each event during that particular holiday. For example in the Christmas folder have individual sheet of paper for: Persons who get gifts and the estimated cost of each gift, the foods served at each meal and cost associated with each meal, any new family clothing needed for holiday festivities, travel expenses for holiday visits, and any other cost centers. This creates concrete cost centers that can be deleted or expanded depending upon the budget. You feel more in control and less overwhelmed with the flood of unexpected expenses after the holiday. Finances are a source of arguments during the holidays and this helps diffuse this anxiety.
- Studies tell us that trying to keep too much information in your mind creates anxiety and loss of memory. During the holiday season make lists of what needs to be done and file them in your day timer or your PDA. This takes the information out of your brain and stores it somewhere else for retrieval. Make sure to mark off the items on your list after completion. There is a great sense of satisfaction seeing the list disappear and you will carry less anxiety within your body. Much frustration occurs during the holidays when we don’t remember things and forget to write them down.
- Attitude of Gratitude: You can choose the attitude that you will maintain during the holidays. If you have a tense attitude you will release more stress hormones and these can build up over the long holiday season. Not only is this not healthy, it is not much fun. You can make a decision that this holiday will be a flow experience and believe that there is a purpose for everything that gets done and doesn’t get done. The holiday is a process and it will have ebbs and flows. Gratitude helps our mind focus on the big picture instead of getting caught in tiny irritating details that can cause problems in our relationships.
- Remember Your Breath: This is your first line of defense for your stress during the season. Most people take shallow breaths, especially when they are stressed. This starves the body and brain of oxygen. When we are tired we might respond to someone in a negative way and later feel sorry for our words. Develop the practice of taking a deep breath, or 2 or 3, before you answer someone in a tense moment. The breath clears the mind, body and soul. In the moments you want to react with a hostile comment that may cause anger, breathing creates space for you to make a decision before you react.
- Discover a mini: When you are waiting in a long line at a store, in a car in heavy traffic or on hold on your telephone, use this as an opportunity for a mini. A mini is a 1-3 minute quickie. Take a moment, if you are able, close your eyes (not in traffic), or focus your eyes on something, take several deep diaphragmatic breaths, and repeat a 1-3 word affirmation with each deep breath. I like to say, “Keep letting go…” After just a minute or two you feel like a new person with a new sense of energy and clarity. Many tense moments are caused by simple exhaustion and this mini gives you immediate centeredness.
- A Round of Beads: I keep a set of some sort of beads with me at all times, in my car, my purse and by my bead. Stop for a minute, pick up your beads, and as you touch each bead, breathe, and say a 1-3 word affirmation or prayer. You will be surprised how calming this practice can become. When some one or a situation is stressing you out, make a round on some form of beads, repeating your own affirmation with each bead, and you will experience a sense of power and detachment from the source of anxiety.
Quick Stress Test
- Listen to your Life: Begin your self examination by learning to pay attention to your body, relationships, home, work, your spiritual life. You may want to keep a notepad or a PDA with you to record when you are feeling stress and when you feel warm and connected to what you are doing or who you are with.
- Self Evaluation: This numerical scale gives you clues to solve the mystery of what is stressing you, who, when, why, where. Use a 1-5 Scale, 1= Minimal, Least to 5 =Extreme, Most. After you list these stressors and value how they affect you, then you can see where you need to begin to make changes. Remember, chronic stress has an adverse effect upon your health.
- Knowledge is Power: Once you know your major stressors, there are 2 basic decisions to make. 1) Change your stressful situation (Leave your job, leave your relationship, move your address) 2) Change your perception of the situation: Learn a new way to experience this situation, or reframe the situation. (Life is a Classroom, not a prison. You may want to change your perception of your work, or work on communication skills to find out if you can be a different person at work. If you can’t leave your job, you can create a plan to leave your job in the future. In the meantime, you can view your boss or your job, as a classroom. Everyone and everything you are doing is a class to teach you valuable lessons in your life. The Dalai Lama said that our enemies and trials are our greatest teachers; they teach us patience, forgiveness and compassion).
- Choice: You are not the victim of your life. Every event and every person in your life creates a choice for you. Our life is the product of our choices. When you take responsibility for your life you become the hero of your life not the victim.
- Energy: As you become more aware of your life, and make new choices, you will experience new energy. You will have a new sense of your own personal power. Begin with baby steps, one new choice, one change, one breath.
Gratitude Equals Happiness
Counting your blessings isn’t just good for your soul; it may also be good for your health. Research conducted through the John Templeton Foundation shows that people who intentionally practice gratitude have a better outlook on problems, exercise, more regularly and achieve more of their personal goals than people who don’t. Here’s how to benefit:
It is impossible to be stressed and grateful simultaneously. Discipline yourself so that in the midst of stressful moments, you stop, take a deep breath and appreciate something in your life. This resets your internal thermostat.
Pick a certain time each day to focus on gratitude. Smile, take a deep breath and say, “I am grateful for___.” You can do this while brushing your teeth, commuting to work or eating lunch. Just as you schedule a meeting, schedule your gratitude moment. After a week or two it will become part of your daily life.
Each day, write down in your
planner or PDA one thing you are grateful for. Later on you will enjoy
reviewing this trail of your life. It can become your private gratitude