Get A Positive Start: Handling Holiday Stress

It's Christmas week, and if you're anything like me, you haven't quite finished your shopping, the house isn't clean enough for company (yet), and you may be facing a "To-Do" list a mile long with not nearly enough time to finish it all. Enter Holiday Stress - feeling like you can't accomplish it all and worrying about whether you'll have everything perfect before the big day arrives.

It’s Christmas week, and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t quite finished your shopping, the house isn’t clean enough for company (yet), and you may be facing a “To-Do” list a mile long with not nearly enough time to finish it all. Enter Holiday Stress – feeling like you can’t accomplish it all and worrying about whether you’ll have everything perfect before the big day arrives.

Actually, it doesn’t have to be a Holiday that fires up the stress machine – it could be any significant event in your life. Stress knows no season, no rhyme and often no reason! It seems to always be present, no matter what we do, think or say. To be perfectly honest, stress doesn’t have to be all bad – the adaptations your body makes to a new exercise program are about stress – your body’s reaction to additional physical stresses that you place on it are what makes you stronger / fitter / faster.

Holiday or Event stress can make life a lot less enjoyable though, and as I mentioned in my recent BlogTalkRadio show, “Dealing with Stress and the Holidays” , it is very important for your self-esteem, self-confidence and overall health to find ways to handle stress effectively. When you are making changes in your life, stress is your inevitable companion, but you don’t have to be afraid of it – you CAN learn to handle stress more effectively than you may have done in the past.

I found a wonderful article on relieving stress on the Mayo Clinic website, and wanted to particularly highlight three of the options they mention:

1. Get (and stay) active! Now you probably already know that I’m a big advocate of exercise and movement – for me, some of my favorite times are those when I’m out walking with my dog, or when I’m on the rowing machine, grooving to the music and working my muscles. If you haven’t already started a regular movement program (dancing around your living room to your favorite music is movement, so is the visit to your favorite treadmill or elliptical machine at the gym) then don’t wait another moment – start today! You don’t need fancy equipment, you don’t necessarily even need to go to the gym – there are TONS of options out there. Just pick ONE – something perhaps you’re familiar with to give you an initial sense of comfort – and then MOVE. Even 15 minutes a day can help you to relieve stress, feel stronger and better, and lift your mood.

2. Laugh! While having a good sense of humor (and the ability to laugh easily) won’t necessarily cure all your stresses, it will help you to feel better. Even “faking” a good laugh will help you start to feel lighter, mentally, and cause positive physical changes. Your stress response will change and ease, your heart rate will increase, and you’ll tap into some of those good, relaxed feelings that can help you move through busy times. Search out material from your favorite comedians, do a YouTube search for funny videos, or hang out with people who share / encourage your sense of humor.

3. Get Musical! The holidays are wonderful to listening to or playing music – it’s all around us, from public broadcasts that waft from stores to radio channels that play “All Holiday Music, All the Time”. Music provides a positive mental distraction, reduces physical, muscle-based tension and may even decrease the production of stress hormones. Music can take you away – helping you to remember good times or shift your train of thought. Put your headphones on if you have them (watch that volume!) and close your eyes…let yourself be absorbed by the music and turn down the soundtrack on your hectic or chaotic thoughts. You may even find that inspiration to solve a nagging problem comes to you while listening to music – freeing your mind to move in new and different directions can be very beneficial.

The holidays are not with us forever – in less than two weeks, they will be behind us – so don’t allow yourself to get too cranked up! Recovering from stressful episodes is often more difficult than we might think – so protect your state of mind, your emotional and physical health, and put some stress relievers into your daily routine, as often as you need them.

Enjoy the week ahead – plan for some downtime, some stress-relief time, and some exercise / movement time.

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