The holiday season is just starting and, for many of us, holiday stress is starting too. I try to plan ahead to minimize holiday stress. It’s not that I have less to do. In fact, November and December are our busiest months at work. But I find if I approach the holiday season as a time for more heart and kindness, I enjoy it so much more. It’s a time of year when many people are kinder, more friendly and giving. There is a twinkle and spirit of celebration in the air despite whatever else is going on.
Yet as I look at the news reports that poverty levels in our country are increasing, that Congress can’t get a jobs bill passed or agree on much of anything, that the stock market is swinging wildly up and down and people are insecure about their financial future, I wonder how people are feeling this holiday season.
Tight budgets can mean stressing over having to spend less on gifts, as well as what to get and for whom. Planning family gatherings or parties can feel overwhelming. It can be easy to fake the holiday spirit and who wants to do that?
Here are 4 key tips to prevent stress and nourish your heart through this holiday season. I use them and find them invaluable.
- The holidays are a good time to find a deeper heart connection with people. Make that your focus and priority. Spend more time enjoying people and their holiday spirit, and that can help rekindle your holiday spirit.
- Be careful not to get caught up in over-extending yourself. Adding too much to your plate can turn what should be a good time enjoying the holiday season into an extra backpack of stress. Then you have to take the first week of the New Year just to recoup from it all. You can avoid this by slowing down in the midst of all the activities and checking in with yourself about where you’re really at. Observe your energies and feelings and learn to find more ease through it all. Here’s a simple tool proven to help us find more ease and dissipate stress as we go.
Tool: Notice and Ease
Use Notice and Ease as soon as you start to feel tense, anxious, overwhelmed or sad. It’s important to notice – become emotionally aware and acknowledge what you’re feeling, then to ease and “befriend” the reaction by holding it in your heart, then letting the stressful feeling ease out of your system. If you try and fight against the feeling or push it away, it just drains you. Keep using this tool for one minute or longer until you feel something lighten up, even if you don’t get to a complete release yet. Even a little ease can bring some relief and a more balanced perspective.
Step 1: Notice and admit what you’re feeling.
Step 2: Try and name the feeling.
Step 3: Tell yourself to e-a-s-e- as you gently focus your attention in the area of the heart, relax as you breathe, and e-a-s-e- the stress out.
By admitting a feeling, whatever it is—worry, anxiety, frustration, anger, resistance or even a vague disturbance you can’t put your finger on—you slow down the emotional stress energy running through your system. In Step 3, you redirect your emotional energy to work for you and stop stress accumulation. Notice and Ease, downloadable MP3 and slide presentation.
- With more balance and ease, you can make this holiday period a time of genuine fun and renewal rather than faking your fun while you’re really feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Once you get on a stress roll, it can be harder to turn things around. The key is to monitor and slow down your inner body language. Learning to slow down not just your movements but also your internal speed can make the Notice and Ease tool more effective. Have honest self-talks about whether you’re going too fast, your attitude, or what you need to stay more balanced in the process.
- A great way to enjoy more of the holiday spirit is by keeping your focus on genuinely appreciating and caring for others. Ask yourself each morning, Who can I show a little more appreciation? Or who can I express more genuine care and kindness to today? It can be as simple as opening the door for someone or telling someone that you appreciate them. Genuine gestures of care and appreciation are often remembered long after the holiday glitter is gone. You’ll find this is a fun gift for the other person and a big gift to yourself.
If you’d like to learn more tools for moving in a state of ease, click here.