7 Simple Tips for Easing Holiday Stress, by Francine Ronis

Holiday stress is nothing new.  Articles about holiday stress abound the internet.  

Holidays are touted as family time, joy, merriment, cheer.  Yet, we all know they come loaded with expectations, stress, unpleasant emotions and, often, an inordinate amount of togetherness that can leave us depleted.  We might reach for things we believe will lift us up, but instead stir up intense feelings lurking underneath. Instead of reaching for another glass of wine, piece of pie, or shooting off a sarcastic remark to your brother-in-law, I offer you easy, self-care tools that really work, and provide you with a deeper sense of self that can ground and help you through rough patches. 

Self-care is a new buzz word that can seem elusive.  We imagine we don’t have time or energy for self care, others needs are more important, or it has to be something big, expensive and time consuming.  The truth is, self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity and can happen in a moment, and doesn’t cost a thing. When we practice self-care, we give a gift to ourselves and to our family.  We develop a calm core, which permeates our interactions with others. Self-care is not for sissies. It is a deep and sacred practice, that nurtures our soul and takes the responsibility off of others.  When we practice self-care we are not only taking care of ourselves in the moment, but healing past wounds that are often being triggered when we are around loved ones. Here are some quick and relatively easy steps you can take to truly manage your holiday stress. If you are like me, you won’t remember these tools in the moment, so grab a piece of paper or your phone and make a note to keep handy and refer to in moments of stress. (Tool number 1, have your resources handy!)

Try some of these simple tips…

  1. Pause.  Take a breath.  When we take the time to really breath and connect our breath with our body, our whole nervous system calms down.  Oxygen combats cortisol and our brain gets a rest. When we connect with our breath there is a pause, and in that pause there is stillness and chance to decide how to act, instead of re-act.  As we practice intentional breathing, we develop muscle memory and you will notice your body start to take deep breaths without effort! 
  2. Move your body.  All mammals metabolize stress with movement.  Humans forget to do this. We sit, we feel, we process our emotions with our brain, but they also collect in our bodies causing dis-ease.  When we consciously use movement to process stress, it leaves our system. Dance, stomp, yell, run, roar, do jumping jacks as you release unpleasant thoughts and energy. 
  3. Get out in nature.  Nature has a calming, soothing effect on the nervous system.  Grab your coat and hat, go for a brisk walk, gaze at the sky, hug a tree.  You will feel a renewed connection to the earth, humanity, and your core that will give you energy to continue on with your festivities and responsibilities.  
  4. Give yourself some time alone.  It can be overwhelming to be taking care of others, managing everyone else’s desires and expectations.  Often we neglect our own needs and then feel angry and resentful that we are not being taken care of. It’s an old adage, but it’s true.   Put your own oxygen mask on first. You cannot be fully available to others if you are depleted. Step away, read a book, call a friend, take a nap, meditate.  Not only will you come back to your gathering feeling better, but you will be modeling self-care, to your children and family, so everyone wins!
  5. Think before you drink.  Limit the alcohol and sugary foods.  We tend to reach for them because they are available and provide a quick fix, but in the end harm our bodies and often make us feel worse.  
  6. Drink lots of water.  Most of us don’t drink enough, and when we combine that with alcohol and heavy food, we get dehydrated.  Being well hydrated helps us feel better and cope. Add some fruit, bubbles or chia to your water to make it more easily absorbed and fun.  
  7. Phone a supportive friend.  Not a friend that will commiserate with you about how awful your in-laws are, but a friend that will lift you up, tell you how wonderful you are and that you can handle it.  A friend that will remind you that you are worthy of the time out, the walk in the woods or the hour with a book. Cultivate these positive friendships and support each other.  

To find out more about radical self care and its benefits, or to receive support on your journey, contact us here.  We offer a variety of ways to support you in easing the manner in which you live your life.  Learn about our therapy services as well as our Restore & Explore classes and retreats.  If you do this work, you will find more joy.  Make the choice now to invite growth and healing into your 2020.  We’re here to help.  

Francine Ronis is a licensed child/family therapist and Parent Coach who is continually receiving reminders about how important self care is.  

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