Fun, exciting, warm and festive: the holidays are such a special time of year. But amidst the festivities and excitement, a sense of overwhelm can overcome us as our list of to-dos grows longer. Shopping, travel arrangements, party preparations and other holiday-related tasks take over and threaten to sabotage the magic of the holiday season.
But it doesn’t have to turn into a “Stressmas” if we don’t want it. Here are some gift ideas to ‘present’ yourself with to truly enjoy this special time of year:
The gift of the joy-o-meter
With every choice you make this season: ask yourself “Does this bring me joy?” As you use the joy-o-meter to decide, several obligatory, half-hearted events and activities will fall by the wayside. You might find yourself turning down invitations, or not committing to help out with the office theme party or picking fewer holidays cards for a small circle of loved ones. Make it easy on yourself and do only what you find joyful.
The gift of hydration
As temperatures dip and alcohol consumption rises, dehydration becomes a serious threat to physical health and emotional wellbeing. Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels. If the body doesn’t get enough water you might experience unnecessary stress, food cravings and mood swings so make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Keep a bottle close by so you’re motivated to keep sipping. Warm is better. Warm with lemon is golden.
The gift of asking
Around this time, my clients often complain in distress “I have to do all these things by myself!”. I encourage you to question that. Do you really have to do <insert task here> alone? Have you asked your parents, partner, friends, kids to help you out? You’ll be surprised to find that our loved ones are willing and eager to help when asked. In fact they will enjoy being part of a family project together.
The gift of deep breathing
How we breathe can affect our emotional and mental states and determine how we physically respond to stress. Slow and even breathing can literally short circuit the stress response in less than a minute. So make sure you’re taking deep, long breaths as you go about your business this season. Stick a note on your dashboard, office or bathroom so you’re reminded often to practice the simple but powerful act of slow, deep breathing throughout the coming days.
The gift of movement
Stress and anxiety have trouble sticking around when our bodies are in motion. Although this can be challenging during this time of year, it is important to keep the body moving and active. Make small efforts to this effect: take the stairs, walk away from your desk every thirty minutes, stretch and bend after bathroom breaks, dance! Remember: a rolling stone gathers no dust and a moving body gathers no stress!
The gift of letting go
Finally, spend some time reflecting on the year gone by. What choices, people, thoughts and actions didn’t serve you well? Were you overly harsh with yourself this past year? Can you let go of the judgments, beliefs and ideas about yourself and others that are not rooted in love and compassion? This is an important gift to give yourself as the new year beckons. If we want a different experience in the new year, we must be willing to let go of old, heavy, debilitating beliefs. We deserve better and there’s no time like the holidays to make room for the new.