Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Coping Skills

With the holidays comes a more hectic schedule often leading to stress. Stress weakens our immune system. As stress is experienced our body dumps cortisol to maintain a level of arousal. This hormone suppresses the protective enzyme which counteracts our body’s ability to restore itself. Chronic stress will set us up for a variety of illnesses and ailments, the least of which is that cold or flu we may get in the midst of the holiday season. So take time to do your own self care this season enabling you to enjoy the season. Here are some tips to consider using to relieve holiday stress.

1.       Pare down your schedule.  Prioritize what has meaning to you and pick and choose how you want to spend your time this season. Think about past holidays and what you enjoyed. Put those choices into your schedule and take out those that don’t work for you in maintaining peace.

2.       Work out regularly. Schedule your workouts so they aren’t lost at the end of a tiring day. This is the very time you need to maintain your sanity.  Working out will replenish your body, give you energy and help you deal with the added frustrations. If you can’t do the typical workouts then do fewer but increase your time you do those workouts.

3.       Set up no expectations.  Go to the family gatherings with no expectations so that all the moments can be more than expected. Getting together with extended family can bring up past history (if only in your mind), personalities that can be hard to deal with, and the hope that something good will happen. Go neutral and just be in your moment.

4.       Get adequate sleep throughout the season. This isn’t the time to cut down on sleep. This is mandatory for your body to rest and your mind to be open and tolerant.  Enough sleep will set the stage for everything.

5.        Eat healthy when you can. Make good choices.  Control your caloric intake by eating healthy throughout your day and being selective when you choose to eat at gatherings. Instead of being compulsive about the food being served, focus on filling yourself with some heart-filled conversations.

6.        Manage your alcoholic intake. Alcohol is a depressant and will not improve your mood if you are stressed out. It will also not help you navigate away from melancholy moments that may be more prominent during the holidays.

7.        Don’t compare yourself to others.  This is a losing proposition. Anytime we compare ourselves we don’t match up.  Instead spend your time focusing on what you do like about yourself, your family and your life. Show up at your gatherings feeling good about something in you!

8.        Stick to a budget. Overspending will not buy those relationships you wish were better. Consider making your gifts or doing a family gift exchange versus buying more than you can afford.
Realize that we are in charge of our life and we have choices that will enable us to enjoy our moments and be less stressed in our holiday time. Make a choice that will allow your life to be more peace-filled this holiday season.

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