December 7, 2021 By Kathy James - Please leave a comment & share!
You can take a drive down any street in America right now and you will find homes and store fronts lined with twinkling lights and ribbons. The 25 days of Christmas movies and the anticipation of the neatly wrapped gifts under the tree seem to spark renewed excitement, but if you are anything like me, it does not take long for the excitement to begin to fade and the anxiety to begin to creep in.
For women in particular, the holidays tend to increase anxiety rather than decrease it. As women, we tend to hold the weight of the world on our shoulders all year long and then as if we have superhuman strength we pile on decorating, shopping, and hosting right at the top. We cook, clean, wrap, and have the urge to top last year’s Holiday party until we are exhausted and overwhelmed.
As if keeping up with the Joneses was not enough… Many are trying to maintain a holiday spirit while also trying to manage difficult financial situations, illnesses, grief, and strained relationships. Making managing stress and taking care of ourselves, more important. For me, knowing that I tend to have an increase in stress during this season, I decided I needed to learn how to prepare for and manage my anxiety so that I could fully enjoy the holidays with my friends and family. Here are 3 simple ways that I found to help me decrease my stress, hopefully you will find them useful too.
Recognize and anticipate the triggers that may cause an increase in stress. Your stress triggers may be the large shopping crowds, the in-laws coming to town, decorating, or maybe your triggers have nothing to do with the holidays at all. Whatever your triggers might be, if you anticipate them, you can in turn plan for the emotions that arise with them. By staying in tune with your emotions, you can become better prepared for how you will react in the future.
Take the time to pause and reflect each morning as you begin your day and before starting out on any new task or event. During this time, think about the people, places, and things that you will encounter. What instances may have brought stress in the past? It is likely that these same instances may trigger that same feeling in the future. Once you have identified those potential scenarios, you can plan on how you will react, including a potential exit strategy. Make sure to discuss those plans with your loved ones too.
During my time of anticipating and reflecting, I recognized that sudden changes to my well thought out holiday plans was one of my "hot" anxiety triggers. By choosing to be proactive vs reactive, I am now able to create an action plan and can choose how to respond before my stress levels start to rise, while also allowing myself the space I need to reflect and regroup.
Now that you know what your holiday triggers are, you can start to plan for how you can manage them. Deep breathing is one of many ways in which I have found to be helpful. Studies show intentional focused breathing, such as deep breathing exercises, are known to decrease stress and improve overall health, including blood pressure.
In the morning and through-out the day, take deep long breaths in and then slowly let the air back out… you know, as if you were sitting on a medical exam table with the Dr. listening intently to your lungs. It’s as simple as that, except, this time you won’t have the cold chill from the stethoscope on your back. Breathing exercises are simple and can be done anywhere, and as often throughout the day as you need. Deep breathing can help you to clear your mind, to refocus, and can be helpful any time of the year, but especially during the holidays.
Recognizing your holiday triggers and searching for ways that will help you to manage your stress are great starts, but caring for your personal emotional, mental, and physical needs are probably the most important.
Spending time caring for others can be very rewarding, until it isn’t. Take time to recognize the needs of others, while you also recognize and tend to your own wellbeing and happiness. Treat yourself to a quiet coffee, to a warm bubbly bath, or find a friend to have dinner with. Make sure you are mindful of what your body is telling you. Whatever it is, do it!
As Simple as A, B, & C
I admit that these simple steps (A, B, & C) may seem a bit juvenile and maybe even a bit too simple, but isn’t that the point? Who needs another complicated list or another long acronym to remember anyways? I know I don’t! Instead, I choose to remember to A, B & C.
A, to anticipate and plan for my stress triggers before that holiday party, B to Breath the next time I am in the shopping line with a crowd of other tired anxious shoppers, and last, but not least, C, to Care for myself. I decided that I needed to be wiser about taking on more projects or before volunteering for another charitable event that might have otherwise left me overwhelmed and exhausted because I realized that my family needed me, healthy and happy.
There you have it! 3 easy ways to help relieve stress over the holiday, and any day! If you found this blog to be useful or if you have any stress relieving tips that you’d like to share, please comment below. Don’t forget to like and share to invite your friends and family to read and subscribe also.
Now... Let's go get our Girl Fight on!
Author, Kathy C. James
CEO of Girl Fight