Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Stress-less!
I wonder if it would be possible to enjoy a holiday season with less stress. If you are like me, you wonder this each year too. Well, this year WILL be different. Why? Because you believe! Believing – that’s what the season is about, right? Believing in mystery, miracles and magic! From the sacred lights of Chanukah and Kwanzaa to the Christmas nativity and Old Saint Nick, this time of year, meant for reflection, family and celebration, has been overrun with commercialism and have tos and must dos. So where’s the joy? Where’s the belief in a Merry Stress-less?
So, let’s say you really believe that this year is going to be THE year where:
- You won’t feel rushed and pressured to get “just the right” gifts, and
- you won’t get frazzled preparing the perfect holiday meal, and
- you won’t feel overwhelmed by all the commitments you need to keep.
But how are you going to accomplish all this? Well, it’s not as difficult as you think. It starts with a foundation of intention, creating a morning ritual and then some practical follow through.
5 Ways to More Joy and Less Stress During the Holiday Season
1. Your Vision of Belief
Research shows that athletes who visualize their performance are more apt to reach their goals. So, here’s where you get to play. And if you are already thinking you don’t have time to play, you can do this anywhere (i.e., during your commute, standing in line at the grocery store, in the shower)
Now think about all you have to do this holiday season. Get a really clear picture of how you want it to be. In addition to seeing it with your mind’s eye, really concentrate on how you will FEEL. That’s the key. When you are creating your vision, how are you being and feeling in that vision? What sense of joy are you expressing? Take your time. If you are caught in a stress moment right now, you may find it difficult to make the switch to a happy place. Don’t give up. Just try again later. Create your vision and really feel how it feels in your body. Is it a full and warm feeling in your heart? Does your solar plexus feel calm and peaceful? Do your toes feel tingly? Make it as real as possible.
If you really want to cement this step, write it in your journal. Be as descriptive as possible and create your story to your stress-less holiday.
While you are in your journal, answer these questions:
* What would need to be different for me to stress less?
* How would I need to be different?
* What’s easy to release?
* What lusciousness can I create for me?
From everything you've envisioned and breathed energetic life into, it's time to create your intention statement:
"This holiday season, I intend ____________________________________."
Great! Now that you have your vision all juiced up, let’s move on.
2. Morning Ritual
Rituals don't have to be hard or take a lot of time. I'm not a big proponent of multi-tasking because it is a sure-fire way of not being in the moment and it typically adds stress. So, if you need to rise 10 minutes earlier than usual, or skip 10 minutes waiting in line at Starbucks, that's the way to go. Your ritual will consist of three things:
* Stating your intention that you created.
* Visualizing and FEELING the stress-less holiday you created.
* Doing one yummy thing just for you
Fun and yummy things: add peppermint essential oil to your morning shower by putting a few drops in an open container/plate in the bathroom; have a good stretch before getting out of bed and really feel the length of your body as it gets ready to give you a good day; open your arms to the side, take several deep breaths and yell, "thank you, thank you, thank you, joy, joy, joy!"; brew your "special" tea that you save for guests and have a cup, etc.)
3. The Ghost of Christmas Past
Remember Scrooge's visitation from the ghost of Christmas past? Well, maybe now's the time to let it go! Maybe it was a squabble with a family member who is now expected at your house for dinner -- ask yourself -- does holding on to this enhance my intention or detract from it? Or maybe it is a struggle you are having at work -- ask yourself -- is keeping this issue top-of-mind enhancing my intention or detracting? Keeping alive the negative stories from the past robs you of the joyful energy and intention you are now creating. Your intention is a present to you and a reminder to do just that -- stay in the present moment. Get lost in the twinkling lights, deeply breathe in the scent of the pine tree, sing along to holiday tunes and smile. It's nearly impossible to feel stressed and smile at the same time!
4. Even Santa Has Elves
You don't have to do it all alone! Find someone who can help with details. Maybe guests each make a dish and bring it over. Or maybe someone can pick up a short list at the store for you. And if you truly don't have someone to lighten the load, consider lightening it yourself. Ask yourself: Do I really need to do all this? What can I do without? Make a list and check it twice. Perhaps this year, you can release and do less. You won't be letting anyone down -- you will feel lighter, happier and more joyful and for that everyone will be truly grateful!
5. Otherwise Engaged
Is your social calendar filled with events, parties and activities that you feel compelled to attend but are not so joyful about it? Consider reducing the number of events you attend this season. Now, I get that some are work related and some are family related and you may feel as though you truly must attend but try this: take a piece of paper and make two columns. In the left column are events you absolutely must attend. In the right column, list the events you still choose to attend but you will also choose to limit the amount of time you are in attendance there. Maybe it's arriving a bit tardy (oh, I know some folks will cringe with this one), or leave early. The point is, you've put in an appearance, and more importantly, you are honoring you. And if you feel drained while you are there, find a place to sit that gives you a birds-eye view of the action without actually being in the thick of it. Or step outside for some fresh, cool air to move your energy around and give your cheeks a rosey glow!
Bears do it! They hibernate. And I have found that sometimes, just sometimes, people have to hibernate too. I have to admit that I’ve been doing a bit of it myself lately.
I’ve been introspective….quiet….sometimes teary…and just feeling like a couch potato. I realize this is all a part of life. The process of ups and downs and ebb and flow. But
in the midst of the hibernation, it can be somewhat uncomfortable. And of course, intellectually, I know the best thing to do is to just “be” but then the pesky inner voice starts in, “you should be writing”, “you should be networking” and yada yada yada! So after even my sweatpants got sick of sitting on the couch, something just said, “Go rake the leaves.” My husband typically (and thankfully) takes care of this, but on this not-so-cold fall day, I decided to put my down blanket behind and grab the rake.
At first it was a little overwhelming because my “perfect gene” started to rear its ugly head and I began obsessing about getting every last little leaf off the lawn. When I got sick of that, something amazing began to happen. I started to pay attention to the movement of my arms back and forth; and my feet as they stepped forward and then in reverse. And it felt like I was dancing to a rhythm and as I bent down to pick up the leaves I suddenly felt tears running down my face (nope it wasn’t an allergy attack!).
And then this thought popped in my head “I am so grateful my body can move and I can do this! I am so blessed!” And I was overwhelmed with joy! I cried and said thank you, thank you, thank you! (Lucky for me, most of my neighbors were out to work and didn’t witness it!) I was amazed at how, when I was ready, I felt moved to move. And in that movement and then in the observation of that movement (mindfulness), I found true gratitude and joy. I stood there and observed all the leaves; the different colors and shapes and this too filled me with gratitude and joy. So my hibernation period is over for now, sweatpants are in the wash till next time and I feel inspired to just be present and awake. And looking forward to the weeks ahead when the holiday festivities begin!
Paula G. Rosario
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