Looking back at the winter holidays we just had, take a moment to reflect. Not on how the food turned out, or whether the relatives got along, or how well the gifts you gave were received. But how was it for you? More specifically, were you able to take some time to relax and enjoy your loved ones, or did your inner stress-o-meter keep running at a high level for the entire time? Especially if you’re the one hosting the “home for the holidays,” it can be too easy to let stress overrule what would otherwise be memorable and touching moments.
With a few more holiday experiences left to enjoy for the season, and many more to come in years ahead, we wanted to help equip you with some ways to let go of stress, and make room for the joy that can come from loved traditions, time with friends and family, and the holiday’s meaning and magic.
- Train well, train often. Exercise is an amazingly effective stress-buster. This is thanks in part to the load of endorphins that gets released during exercise. Endorphins are natural pain-relievers, so when you exercise and your body feels good, your mind will follow suit. And in case stress tends to leave you feeling fatigued or with an inability to concentrate, exercise can help with those problems, too. It’s been shown that even a few minutes of exercise can start to relieve anxiety; imagine what a few sessions with your trainer could do!
- TAKE the time. In other words, time to do what you love, with the people you love, won’t happen naturally. You’ve got to purposefully carve it out and make it what you want. Because, really, what would you rather do: attend another nighttime meeting, or bake cookies with your favorite little ones? And while you’re at it . . .
- Be present. This one is SO much easier said than done. When you’ve got 25 things on your to-do list, it’s hard to not ruminate over them. During a lovely moment with friends or family, take a deep breath and focus on what’s right in front of you. Smell the food and drinks, and take in the smiling faces of your loved ones. Take the moment at face value, and allow yourself to rest there mentally, and enjoy.
- Hire out. If party preparations, cooking, or cleaning are bogging you down, consider allowing yourself to hire professionals. It’s true that people love your cooking, but really, would it be a crime to call in some catering? And why not hire in a professional house cleaner, and use the time saved to do something you really want to do? Maybe call up a friend to have coffee, spend a decadent couple of hours reading, or make an appointment with your Fitness Together trainer.
Yes, holidays do arrive with some innate sources of stress. However, with a little preparation; both physical and mental, you can forgo the stress and authentically enjoy these moments.