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I seem to forget every year, just how stress inducing the silly season can be.
It’s that one time of year when everything that could potentially be powerful fuel for gratitude… things like: the numerous party invites to juggle / the never-ending list of gifts to purchase / that killer dress you’re hoping to first find and then rock / that holiday you need to plan and pack and pay for / what to indulge in and what to avoid so far as party food and beverages…
Can instead become sources of stress.
Of course there are more extreme stress inducing factors… stuff like: not having loved ones close by (or at all) / huge credit card debit / unrealistic pre-holiday work deadlines.
Regardless of your situation, and the level of stress you’re experiencing this holiday season it’s possible to either feed the stress OR starve it.
In todays show I’m sharing:
12 Tactics To Tackle Holiday Season Stress.
Our 12 tactics each fall into one of three subcategories:
- Simple Strategies.
- Respect your Routine.
- Nurture the NO!
Let’s get rolling with…
First: Simple Strategies.
Now these strategies are so simple you may discount them. I urge you not to. Like your meals and workouts simple is often best… and yet it’s such a temptation to over complicate things.
1). Take a few deep breathes.
Inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds and exhaling for 8 seconds. Yes, you’ve heard it before but do you utilize it? Since starting meditation I’m a lot more aware of the effect my breathing can have on my mood.
In the middle of a stressful day a few slow deep breathes calms your bodies natural fight or flight response. It’s tells your body: “Hey this is how we breath when we’re calm and safe – so just chill, it’s all good!”
(ok, that may not be the exact yogi master translation however just try it!)
2). Get some sun.
The sun stimulates feels good neurotransmitter serotonin. Even just that 5 minutes that you’ve previously gobbled down lunch at your desk or hung in the staff room is worth stepping outside if there’s some sun to catch.
When you think about it we’ve gradually manufactured a lifestyle severing lacking in exposure to the sun that used to be such a natural part of life. From apartment to garage to garage to office. It’s scarily easy to live a really enclosed life.
I’m getting settled on my “This isn’t what our bodies were designed for!” soap box now! There’s something so natural and calming about a simple walk. If you’ve got an hour to spare an indulgent walk in mother nature would rock however I’m guessing when you’re stressed you don’t always have an hour to spare?
You do have 5 minutes though. 5 minutes to walk – like our bodies were built to walk – and to feel calmer, more focused and effective as a result.
4). Go Tech-free.
It’s no wonder that we’re so stressed when we’re so attached. Constantly stimulated. Constantly available. Constantly susceptible to feeling out-shined by the highlight reel of everyone else’s life.
Your simple solution is to ditch the device. To decide on regular intervals or outings where you do not need to be at the beck and call of that device. Perhaps it’s as big and freeing a step as a 24 hour digital detox each week? Or maybe you start with a few habits / outings that can become tech-free? Perhaps: when you’re working out / in the hour prior to bed (and of course as you sleep) / and whenever you’re out for a meal (actually, or at home for a meal).
5). Think positive / have gratitude.
This simple strategy will likely involve the most effort. It’s more a matter of gradual, constant improvement than flicking switch.
The thing is: In the same way that you can work yourself into a stressed out frenzy by focusing on everything that might go wrong or that isn’t within your control… you can also think yourself into a calm and grateful state by focusing on the positive and nurturing gratitude.
If positivity and gratitude does not come easily turning it into a habit will help. So that might be the morning or evening gratitudes or even the positive or grateful thoughts you think at set times. Like as you walk into work or as you arrive home.
I’ve spoken a fair bit about focus and gratitude particularly in show #011.
This week I heard a new spin on structuring your gratitude curtesy of Tim Ferriss. It’s straight from a fab podcast he did on the magic of mindfulness. Here are Tim’s 4:
=> an old relationship that really helped you / you value.
=> an opportunity you have today.
=> something great that happened yesterday.
=> something simple near you.
Laughing can lead to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol. It also causes your brain to release feel good endorphins.
I’ll let you google the science’y specifics – if you want to – however you know it works right?
A laugh with a colleague or friend is such as easy, enjoyable tactic to fight stress. It’s not a cure-all however nothing is.
It’s more about building up your repertoire of tactics.
I’ve recently started listening to comedy podcasts. Not during my working routine more at the end of the week if I’m cleaning, washing or doing some meal prep. I’m actually a recent huge fan of Aussie comedians Hamish and Andy.
Or there’s always the world of youtube video (I’d recommend you set a timer though so you don’t get sucked into the youtube void. My fav for an easy laugh is Dom Mazzetti. Here are a couple of his classics: Dom Mazzetti vs Gym Buddies and Dom Mazzetti vs How Girls Eat.
Let’s move onto the next subcategory for stressing busting…
Second: Respect your Routine.
It’s true I’m a routine girl! However, regardless of whether YOU find routine freeing as a whole or not there are 100% components of your routine that help keep a handle on stress. Those things that may have worked so well for you all year and then bit by bit… as the holiday season hits… they get muscled out by more urgent demands.
More seemingly urgent yet NOT more important.
You know the amount of sleep your body needs to function effectively. Unfortunately sleep is one of the things we sacrifice as out schedules fill up. The opportunity cost is huge. Not enough sleep means you’re less efficient and effective.
You’re grumpy. Your discipline so far as food, exercise, everything is severely lacking.
And you’re much more susceptible to stress. Whatever the sleep routine is that works for you: Perhaps 7-8 hours sleep / bed by 10.30pm / no electronic devices in bed or the hour before bed – protect it and enjoy the benefits.
8). Stick with your morning routine.
As I covered in show #005 your morning routine sets the tone for how you handle the rest of the day… however it’ll be tough to follow if you didn’t stick to tactic #7) Sleep.
Once you’ve got sleep sorted you have zero excuses so far as respecting your morning routine.
Get up as soon as your alarm sounds. Prioritize a nutritious breakfast. Start your day with your one most important task.
That way you’ll be much better positioned to handle whatever stressors get thrown your way as the day progresses.
Some days are just going to be testing… however imagine how much worse a hell day at work would be if you started the day by over sleeping, you skipped breakfast and you ignored your most vital task then got immediately sucked into everyone else’s emergencies for the rest of the day?
You know I had to go there right? Each year around this time I get disappointed as a few people start to miss their workouts.
To be fair the super vast majority of my clients still get to the gym. They know it’s in their best interest.
They know they’ll have me on their back (supportively!) if they attempt to play the almost-never-acceptable-NO-TIME-card!
The fact is exercise gives you energy, makes you more efficient and is a keystone habit that helps hold together all the rest of your good habits… like eating well, and sleeping well, and following through on your commitment to you.
Which brings us to the final subcategory for stressing busting…
Third: Nurture the NO!
I’ve been told I’m too good at this one. If you’re a bit of a people pleaser then that’s lovely and admirable and there’s a degree of value there too (in fact I could probably learn a little from you) HOWEVER it’s also holding you back.
If you find yourself saying NO to things that are important to you then it’s time to get better at saying NO to others.
10). Say NO more and enjoy more.
The thing I gently suggest to my people pleasers is: For sure 100% Go For It if you’re genuinely happy to help someone else. However when it leads to resentment you’re better off saying NO.
Test it out. See what happens. My mum is getting much better at this and I’m so proud of her.
It means you get to really enjoy those things you’re committed to… to give your best energy and focus to them and equally it means you get to stop wasting energy on that tedious period of indecision when you’re half-committed-obliged-resentful.
As the cliché goes: You can’t please all of the people all of the time however at least you can do less better and more enjoyably.
11). Ask for help.
Perhaps you’re the generous person who’s heavily over-Yes’ed and not yet comfortable with throwing around some No’s?
This is the time to reach out and ask for help.
Often (and I have to remind myself of this) people are more than happy to help. Asking for help gives someone else the opportunity to provide value… to share their skills… to feel good.
In any context I can think of: be it at work / in the gym / when catering for a huge family get together… the better option is to ask for help before it all turns to custard (as my mum would say).
Repeatedly I hear the most successful people discuss how important a team, mentors, family – help has been to their success.
12). Forget Perfection.
Aside from the fact that perfection is completely unattainable. Also that it’s the perfect excuse to procrastinate and do nothing… aside from that perfection is just a form of being held hostage by your EGO and inviting massive stress.
Stress that doesn’t effect just you.
The perfect holiday example, is that massive family get together I just mentioned. That’s always at your house and you’re getting a little resentful however you’re yet to master the NO. Possibly you’re not so great at asking for help either… certainly not with those most important, most time consuming things.
And yet, you’re still clinging onto perfection. The perfect menu and table sittings and decorations and do you know what?
All of that stuff is gorgeous. However it’s still going to be gorgeous if the custard is store bought not home made… and the cutlery doesn’t match perfectly… and even if you have a few too many vino’s and overcook the plum pudding a tad.
Because the holiday season is really about the simple yet huge things: Like family and friends and as much as you can just chilling together rather than stressing each other out.
To get actionable today if you struggle with Holiday Season Stress I’d love you to take one of these tactics for a spin.
That’s it for me today. I hope you can join me for the Wednesday Weigh-in show. I’m covering: No Equipment, No Excuses Body Gaining Routine!
If you liked this you’ll also like: How To Prevent Weight Gain Over Christmas and New Year (6 step survival blueprint).
If you’re yet to share the Healthification love – just click here to zip over to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review. It’d help me out big time. With gratitude, Kate.