Natural Ways to Unwind During the Holiday Hustle and Bustle
As the holiday cheerful activity approaches, it can quickly morph into a time of over-commitment, and produce an unbridled and unhealthy stress mode. There are only so many hours in each day and as numerous social, business and personal relationships make increasing demands, and requests for your authentic and phenomenal presence, it’s time to lean on natural and effective relaxation techniques, along with self-love and self-talk healthy behaviors, to avoid being overwhelmed by the busyness and hectic pace that these highly emotional, spiritual and beautiful events generate.
Identifying Personal Stress Triggers
Recently the American Psychological Association conducted a study relating to women and holiday stress. The resulting observations identified nearly half of all American women as suffering from increased pressure, nervous tension and worry, during the onset of holiday activity. Of course, the celebration of holidays, with its noisy and chaotic hustle-and-bustle, makes both men and women feel very alive, excited, purposive and invigorated. The flip side to these positive feelings and behaviors, due to so many have-two’s, is a buildup of tenseness and stress, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and a lack of consistency with exercise and mental composure.
As stress begins to build when: special gift shopping, Black Friday sales, holiday money management, cooking, decorating, work related social gatherings, party planning, tradition building, family bonding, and spiritual interactions bombard the senses; and the inherit effort to make monumental memories at this time of the year, presents itself; personal needs are swiftly abandoned. Moderation of spending, socializing, and even togetherness with extended family, is abandoned, and excessive behaviors take control. However, in this season of joy, goodwill, and peace on earth; calmness, clarity, health and happiness can be restored.
Natural “Coping Skills” for Managing Holiday Sensory Overload
A multitude of those who celebrate winter holidays, whether its Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or others, attempt, with great effort, to squeeze a year’s buildup of kindness, excitement, generosity, and passion into a few short days and longer nights of celebratory perfection. Truly there is no such flawlessness, human (the ne plus ultra), or traditional holiday event, but the desire for the consummate shared experiences of these annual and special occasions is very real and often, temporarily debilitating. In order to moderate the overwhelming feelings and expectations of the holidays, try the simple and natural activities which allow a “time-out”, and the headspace to regain inner serenity. These coping skills include:
- Practicing mindfulness by becoming consciously aware of building angst and stress levels, and focusing inwardly, with quiet, deep inhalation belly breathing, soothing sounds, and meditation on all the positives in life.
- Listening to favored music, daily, which lifts the spirits, and affects the endocrine system to gently reduce stressors.
- Indulging in a planned “cheat meal” one day a week, containing a taste, flavor, texture, satisfyingly delicious foodie moment. Moderation is the key to this little, wildly-fun, culinary feast, as long as it prepared consciously with the specific intent to be revitalized.
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as guided imagery that allows the visualization of personally significant, soothing scenes, which are feel-good views of places that are valued and treasured.
- Applying the Body Comfort instant, reusable, hot and cold packs anytime tension builds, or after stretching exercises, of the head, neck, chin and shoulders, is an exemplary way of reducing stress, tension and pain “on demand”, to restore the calm demeanor everyone craves to feel their best.
- Practicing Body Scanning muscle relaxation by focusing on the tightness and or fatigue felt when tension and stress build. Making a focal point which is inward, feeling the pull of muscle groups and mentally releasing that tension, exudes a strong positive connection between the mind and body, which lifts the spirits and restores a natural and healthy balance which over-commitment and fatigue have disrupted.
- Keeping a Gratitude Journal of the gifts that life offers daily. Writing down the positives, large and small, that are personally significant, life-affirming, funny, uplifting, and special, makes the warm and meaningful memories created within, more tangible, encouraging, energizing, and yes, calming and restorative.
- Power Napping when sleep deprived due to holiday time constraints, over-committed social obligations, and all the demands imposed by a purposive, busy, and celebratory life, taking a 15-30 nap, is not only restorative for the body, it improves judgement, short term memory, motivation, patience, and performance.
Self-Talk – Transforming Inner Speech
Wanting to maintain a stronger, mentally positive mindset, and nullify any negativity in the season of good will, and beyond, takes effort and focus, but the benefits are tremendous for a more deeply happy and healthy life. The self-talk dialogue initiated naturally, during waking hours, should be one of the most effect actions taken to become more positive and optimistic. It can be silent thinking or spoken out loud. Referring to one’s self in the third person, he or she, allows for a deeper insight into any unconscious thoughts, which are then able to be tweaked into kind, supportive, flexible and confident thinking, silencing the critic within, and allowing for optimism and heightened energy in dealing with all the hassle that’s happening. Self-talk practiced daily, gives the practitioner the power to control reactivity to the stressful holiday situations, and many others as well.
Self-talk allows for a tempering of the expectations that celebrations often generate and affords the opportunity to set “do-able” limits on the activities which will engage families during special moments. It also helps identify negativity, offering an opportunity to think it through, and dispel it. Practicing self-talk is the best way to create a script for living which grows self-confidence, optimism, and peacefulness and greater happiness.
Self-Love, Living with Intention
Self-love is a crucial tool for achieving natural wellness, stress relief, peacefulness and balance during the beautiful but hectic holidays, and during numerous life’s challenges which cannot be controlled, yet must be engaged in to achieve goals and feel purposeful. It is living with self-compassion, kindness, forgiveness and faith as mistakes are made, time is mismanaged, and human flaws and frailties impede the personal life’s plan, and holiday goals which have failed to both bright and merry on a specific date of the year. When the realization that perfection is not possible; and knowledge is sought and gained from mistakes made, with good intent; then learning to show one’s self respect, as the human condition is constantly evolving and not complete at adulthood, this is when true serenity is achieved, no matter what obligations, familial or other, ceremonies, and traditions are occurring.
Making a conscious effort to craft a coping plan for future endeavors, family and career goals, travel, wellness, through self-talk, self-love and natural methods of relaxation, creates the foundation for copious amounts of joy and happiness throughout the coming years, and celebrations. Being a life coach for the self, offers inner peace which becomes contagious for others as well, in this incredibly beautiful world.