It’s mid-November and I’ve heard a couple of clients lament the stress they feel building due to the upcoming holidays. As a personal trainer/coach, I don’t want you experiencing holiday-related stress that impacts your health, happiness and overall well-being. It’s supposed to be the happiest time of year, after all. Only sometimes, it isn’t, right? Added expectations and obligations amount to added stress. And the holidays are full of both! We’ve got expectations for amazing home décor and gifts, home-cooked meals and baked goodies, obligations to attend gatherings and give charitably. If we're being honest, often these expectations and obligations are self-applied! We can’t forget the potential winter time weather and travel woes. Then there’s the challenge of familial strain or conflicts that seem to only come up on Thanksgiving or Christmas. (Deciding where you’ll spend the holidays is always a fun one!) The stress is almost palpable.
It’s easy to get caught up in the negative feelings by imaging all the scenarios that haven’t even happened yet or recalling the disasters of holidays past. The good news is that you can get a handle on some of the tasks that are stressing you, right now. You may not be able to extinguish every ounce of stress but you can certainly manage it and spend more of this season in enjoyment rather than worry.
Step one is to focus your attention and energy on what you can control. What’s stressing you the most? Identify the stressors that can be reduced or eliminated through action. Write down all that you’ve got to accomplish. This can help you organize your to-do list into manageable chunks. Assign dates. Enlist help. Divide and conquer that shopping list with your partner. Do what you can online; feet propped up, hot cup of tea or coffee beside you. You got this!
Step two is to be a bit protective of your time and energy. You are one woman. You can only give and do so much over the next two months. Putting up fewer decorations will have little overall impact on holiday enjoyment. Those store-bought Christmas treats are still quite delicious. AND you can start to say no to commitments. Occasionally, fear of missing out may govern schedules more than it should. Not to mention the pressure to do more and more and more! The result? Giving away the precious time you need to take care of yourself. Yes, it can be hard to pass up opportunities for enjoyment with your people. However, self-care is important too. Reserve time weekly to meditate, exercise, and otherwise recharge. When we are at our healthiest and happiest, we can make a bigger positive impact on the lives of those around us. That’s not the only reason though - taking care of yourself is not only about your ability to take care of others; it's also simply because as a human being, you deserve it!
Step three is to know that sometimes being not okay is normal and you have options. The holidays and year’s end can be an emotional time. Find someone to talk to if you begin to feel overwhelm, anxiety, or sadness. A friend, loved one, therapist, and life coach can all offer different types of support and insight. We live in an amazing time that even includes options for online therapy sessions.
Step four is to remember why you undertake these holiday-making efforts year after year: In celebration. To create memories. To spread joy and cheer and love.
Here's to a healthy, holly jolly holiday season!
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