I don’t know about you, but my family is crazy during the holidays. Their worst attributes seem to find a way to show up. It doesn’t matter that my mom is German and she didn’t even grow up in the states, she seems to develop a weird mood at the onset of Thanksgiving or any other holiday. Suddenly, people who never get along are supposed to behave, dress a certain way, eat with people they’re mad at, and in general be cheerful and content.
Everyone has one reason or another for stress during the holidays, whether its, too much to do, you don’t have the money you want to buy people gifts, you can’t see the family members you want to see, or you’re angry at your dad but can’t find a way to deal with it effectively.
Stress as we all know is bad for your body. And being stressed about something good is sad. Ideally holidays are a good time. Here are some suggestions for decreasing your holiday stresses.
Coping with Stress
1 Gratitude is a wonderful practice any time of year. It helps you feel more fulfilled, helps you see your life as positive, and allows more good things to come. It’s really what thanksgiving is all about. The pilgrims would have died if the Indians hadn’t helped them. Their feast was a thank you and a celebration.
We have a certain perspective on our lives based on our expectations. We can get into the habit of viewing things from that angle. No matter what’s wrong with your life, there’s always someone who has it worse. While that shouldn’t be your motivation for being grateful, it might help change your perspective so that you can begin to see how good life is for you.
2 Remember the Love. Another way is to approach the holidays from the perspective of healing relationships. Try to use the holidays as an opportunity to love the people in your life no matter what. Even if you have imperfect family dynamics, take the opportunity to focus on the love you have.
Remember that, beyond all else, you are with people because you love them. Try to remember that the love is the most important reason you’re there. If someone angers you or causes you pain, remember that the love you have is more important than your need to be right, or your pain. Sometimes in the peak of our pain, it’s hard to remember that.
Years ago when I was in high school I learned the saying – “count to ten before you react” and “walk a mile in his moccasins.” At the time I thought they were good advice but I never really understood what it meant. It means choosing love above all else. It means slowing down enough to see that the person in front of you has a story too, and letting go of yours in order to allow healing to occur.
Feel Good about Feeling Good
3 Acupuncture. Year round, I have clients come to me for acupuncture when they are experiencing stress, and feel like they can’t relax or slow down. Acupuncture works gently with hardly any pain. It has an amazing ability to completely remove stress from your body.
Stress and anxiety come from a place of not being balanced. Acupuncture can change your entire attitude by just bringing you to a more balanced place. Many people actually experience forgetting that they ever had stress, because acupuncture is so effective at removing it.
4 “Witness.” One effective holiday tool is to become “a witness” to your emotions. When emotions are high and people seem to be stressed, it’s hard to feel calm yourself. Especially when you’re with someone that you don’t really enjoy being with. As soon as you start to feel anxious or stressed, you can begin to have an internal conversation that says – “Oh look….I’m feeling stressed” or “Oh look, my anger’s coming up.” When you do this, don’t judge how you’re feeling or what’s happening. Just step back and watch yourself. By doing this, you begin to create a gap between yourself and your emotions.
Remove Stress from Your Holidays
We tend to identify with our emotions when they feel strong, and think that’s all we will experience. It feels like it’ll never go away and will continue to create havoc in our lives. If you begin to witness your feelings, you can see that you have a choice about how to act regardless of your emotions. If you keep on witnessing, slowly you’ll notice that the feelings don’t seem quite so intense. If you keep pretending that you don’t have any feelings, they tend to sneak up on you in unpleasant ways, such as causing fights with your relatives.
5 Holy Basil. When your physical body is balanced, your emotions are less likely to take over. Holy Basil is a wonderful herb that balances your adrenals (which is where stress affects you most) and takes away stress. See your local alternative health doctor for personalized recommendations of herbs and supplements.
In addition to supplements, maintaining healthy eating habits keeps your blood sugar and body in better balance. As tempting as it may be to watch the calories, try not to skip meals this holiday season.
As a final thought, consider this when making your holiday commitments. Observe the places you are going to and how you feel about the visits. Are you going there in love, in friendship, in forgiveness? Are you going there in anger, resentment, and with hurt feelings? Pay attention to your emotions. See how you might be able to make different choices this holiday season and experience more calm, love, and wellness.