Struggling With Holiday Stress
Do the holidays totally stress you out? It’s hard to get away from all the TV and radio ads, social media and the decorations and music in the retail stores. I enjoy the season, but sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough — I’m behind in preparation, and if I could just be better organized, maybe that would ease my stress. In my home we celebrate Christmas, and the constant reminders of how many shopping days are left leave me feeling anxious and overwhelmed at times. But, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the hype and pomp surrounding it can make you feel stressed out!
Mindfulness Can Help
Here are a few tips that will allow you to be present in the moment, instead of being caught up in the worry, planning and thinking that seem to be an integral part of this time of year.
Practice mindful awareness.
The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations of the season and the holidays can be soothing. I know that frantic shoppers or Christmas music blaring in your ear might not seem very calming, but if you take a deep breath and pay full attention to your senses, you might notice the different colors you see as you shop, or you might notice the smell of a fire burning as you walk outside, or maybe you can tune into the taste of a really good orange, or another delicious food.
When you can get out of your head and take the time to really notice what’s around you, it allows your body to relax. You might find something small to appreciate in all of the craziness.
Manage your negative self-talk and be OK with making some mistakes.
Letting perfectionism go can be liberating; we also need to be kind to ourselves. When you forget to order something or forget to be somewhere you were supposed to be, know that you are not alone. Thousands of us out there are forgetting things, too. Instead of beating yourself up, offer yourself some words of comfort and allow that you’re human. It goes like this, “Wow, I’m being really hard on myself for _____. I probably could have done that better, but it’s OK. I made a mistake, but we all do, and it’s OK.”
Practice feeling gratitude.
Feeling gratitude can improve your mood and your outlook if you practice daily. An easy way to bring more gratitude and thankfulness into your life is to write down one thing you’re grateful for each day. You can write in a journal, in the notes of your phone, or just make a mental note to yourself when you find something to be grateful for.
If you struggle with finding something to be grateful for, you can say, “I am grateful for this moment right now.” Or, “I’m grateful for this chair I’m sitting in, or the ground I’m standing on.”
To give your gratitude practice an extra punch, you can share whatever you’re grateful for with someone else. Saying it out loud and sharing it reinforces the positive feelings within you and creates connection with others. Two amazing benefits!
If you’d like to bring more mindful awareness into your life after the holidays, groups are forming now for January 2018. You can find out more here or you can call me at 410-339-1979.
Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979.