‘Tis the season… To be stressed out! The sights and sounds of the holidays are everywhere. Christmas music fills your ears in every store, office and radio station. Holiday treats abound, and there are festive parties and gatherings on everyone’s calendar. All this merriment can give a person some serious stress.
There are lots of stressors this time of year. The late nights parties, less sleep, rich food, alcohol and sweets push your immune system into overdrive. Environmental stresses like traffic, crowded malls, finding the perfect gifts, overspending, and family push your body to its limit. It seems like everyone is in a rush. There’s barely enough time to get it all done. The festivities demand more of you and trigger a stress reaction in your body even if you’re enjoying the season. After all, you still have to tend to all the normal day to day tasks and obligations.
Not everyone is happy around the holidays.
The holidays can be hard for people who are already feeling lonely or missing meaningful connections. You know, if you’ve recently lost a loved one, that this time of year of a sad reminder. If you struggle with depression this time of year tend to feel even worse. The anxiety of social gatherings can trigger people who usually cope well with their symptoms.
Job loss, life transitions, and separations are especially hard to deal with when it looks like the rest of the world is so happy. Social media magnifies the problem. These micro glances into other peoples filtered, photoshopped lives make it tempting to compare yourself adding to the negative voices in your head. Give your self permission to stop comparing yourself to other people.
The four holiday stressors:
Food, Fun, Family, and Finances
If you’re anything like me, the biggest stressors are food, too much fun, family, and finances. Setting up healthy boundaries around these triggers make it easier to manage stress. Once you recognize the triggers, you can make a conscious effort to conserve your energy. This means setting boundaries. Be mindful of the potential stressors and set boundaries that protect your energy.
The stress response is real
Stress is your body’s physiological response to positive or negative events that are threatening or demanding. Emotions like fear, anxiety, surprise, or shock can trigger a cascade of chemical reactions in the body that have short and long term implications for your health and wellbeing. You may recognize the symptoms of rapid heart rate, tense muscles, headache, sweating or digestive upset as signs that your body is experiencing stress. Foods and sleep deprivation also stress the body. This activation of the sympathetic nervous system is part of your fight or flight reflex. It’s a reflex because it’s not under your conscious control. Once this system kicks into gear, you need to take action to shut if off and regain your internal sense of equilibrium.
Tips for holiday survival
- Everything in moderation. Avoid excessive drinking, overeating, or overindulging in rich or sweet foods.
- Try to maintain some consistency in your routine.
- Make time for good quality sleep. Don’t jet lag yourself by sleeping in to try and make up for lost time.
- A daily meditation or yoga practice will help quiet your mind and help you connect to your body.
- Save yourself time and energy by shopping online.
- Set a budget for gift and food and don’t overextend yourself.
- Let go of the need to find the perfect gifts.
- Let go of overly high expectations for the perfect holiday season.
- Set boundaries with family and step back from tense conversations or arguments.
- Say no to things that overextend you.
- Quit listening to the guilt gremlin in your ear.
- Listen to your body.
How to bounce back from holiday stress
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to relieve stress is tapping. Tapping allows your body to release calming endorphins which stop the chemical reaction that happens during fight or flight. The parasympathetic nervous system is able to shut down the autonomic nervous system so that homeostasis can be restored.
You might start with a setup statement like “even if I have so much to do, and I feel so stressed out, I deeply and completely love and accept myself”. The more specific you can be about your exact situation, the more effective this will be. Spend a second getting in touch with any tightness, pain, pressure or upset that you feel and notice what that’s like. Then begin tapping on your eyebrow point, the sides of your eyes, under your eyes, under your nose, your chin, collar bones, under your arms, your ribs and fingernails.
Now do the 9 gamut. Tapping on the back of your hand between your ring finger and pinkie, roll your eyes around smoothly in a circle one way, then the other direction. Sing a few bars of a song, count to 100 by 5, sing a little bit more, now do another round of tapping. Do as many rounds as you need to to feel calm and grounded.
You can do this before an event or afterward. Once you make self-care a part of your daily routine, you’ll be amazed at the difference you feel in your life.
For more information of reducing your stress, follow my blog or call me to set up a consultation.