5 Strategies for Holiday Peace and Joy
by Jackie Foskett, CH
The holidays can be a wonderful time marked by gatherings with family and friends, great food and the spirit of giving. But who hasn’t experienced an overload of such good cheer?
If you find yourself feeling more stressed than celebratory, don’t despair. You can feel calm, joyous and in control—while still making merry. The five powerful strategies below come from my recent workshop “De-Stress and Love Your Holidays.” Pick one or two that resonate with your needs this season, or use them all.
Break the pattern of stress
When you feel tense, short tempered or burdened with long to-do lists, break the pattern of stress— with a calming breath.
Deep breathing not only provides a change in focus, it also allows more oxygen into your body, causing blood vessels to open instead of constrict.
The calm that follows is the perfect opportunity to observe any negative self-talk.
Use the image of a STOP sign, a cancel button, or a delete button to halt negative thoughts in their tracks.
Then, replace them with positive self-talk such as: It will all work out. I do have enough time. I have accomplished so much already. It’s ok to let go of…
Indulge without overindulging
Holiday gatherings usually mean alcoholic beverages and rich foods. Rest assured you can enjoy yourself without overindulging.
At the buffet table:
– Use a small plate
– Serve yourself just 1-2 bitefuls of the more calorie- rich foods
– Drink a full glass of water in between alcoholic drinks
– Walk away from the buffet table
– Focus on connecting with people, not food
At the dinner table:
– Take small portions
– Eat slowly
– Drink lots of water
– Enjoy just a half-serving of dessert
Give your body what it craves
Remember: your body loves to move! Forget about “exercise” and think of yourself enjoying “activity” and “movement.”
When shopping, park your car as far from the store as possible and get some extra fresh air.
Walk briskly around the mall before making purchases. Gather friends for a lively holiday stroll.
Put on some music and dance while wrapping those presents!
Feel yourself in control
Drowning in holiday to-dos? Getting in tune with your body and mind can help you feel more in control.
First, write down everything you need to do until the end of the year.
Now close your eyes and think about your list. How does your body feel? Tight? Tingly? Tired? Tense?
Next, imagine yourself consulting your “Inner Wise Person” for advice, then eliminate just one item on your list.
Notice how your body feels now—welcome the feelings of calmness, peacefulness and joy that may be arising.
Return to your list and see what other items might be crossed off or re- prioritized.
As you enjoy the sense of relaxation flooding your body, imagine even further—see yourself organized, calm, choosing healthy foods, enjoying movement, and feeling balanced as the holidays continue and you wind down this year.
Finally, take a good deep breath as you focus on your inner calmness and open your eyes.
Affirm your health and well-being
Affirmations are a great way to change a stressful state of mind any time, including the holidays. Here are a few of my favorites:
I take time every day to move my body.
I remember to eat only small portions of rich foods.
I am conscious of what goes into my mouth.
I stop eating when I am no longer hungry.
I use my breath to stop the tension-stress cycle.
I focus on people, not eating or drinking.
I drink lots of water.
I take time to relax and be calm.
My life flows easier as I feel more and more balanced.
Practice one or more of these strategies each day from now until the new year. And enjoy!