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  • Writer's pictureConnie Leach

3 Ways to Manage Stress throughout the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be happy, but sometimes they bring about stress and overwhelm due to various demands and expectations. Balancing parties, shopping, gift-giving, work, and home obligations can leave taking care of yourself more than tricky.

Below we'll explore 3 practical tips and strategies to handle holiday stress and to help make the season merry and bright.

#1 Know Where You Are

There are three time dimensions: past, present, and future, and chances are you arenot aware of how much time you spend in any one of them. This is becasue your mind wanders from present to past, back to present, and then into the future, often without your conscious awareness.

The present is the only time dimension where reality exists, so it's important to be aware of when you lose focus and find yourself drifting into the past or future, ruminating over something that's already happened or anticipating something that has yet to occur.

The more time you spend in the present, the less anxiety and stress you will feel. Simply notice when your mind pulls you into the past or into the future. As you notice your mind straying, gently redirect yourself to what is before you.

2) Listen to Your Body Talk

Body Talk is the mechanism your body uses to tell you that your equilibrium has been disturbed, and you are no longer feeling at ease.

Body Talk can, for example, let you know when you're hungry, tired, or thirsty. However, in order to hear your Body Talk, you must be focused in the present so you can notice your bodily sensations.

Body Talk can also indicate stress and anxiety such as contracting a cold when you experience ongoing stress, suffer a headache when you feel angry, or struggle with fatigue when you feel sad.

Clenched hands, sweaty palms, headache, stomachache, muscle tension, tight jaw, stiff neck, or a feeling of light-headedness are a few of the common ways your body might communicate anxiety and stress.

To relieve the negativity in your body, simply pay attention to each part that feels tense and one by one, while taking several deep breaths, breathe into that part until you notice the tension in it releasing. Be sure to notice how your body feels when it is comfortable and calm, because that is your goal.

3) Keep Situations Right-Sized

Consider times in your life when you reacted in a BIG way. For example, you may have yelled at a coworker, hung up the phone on a friend, or threw items across the room Looking back, did that reation fit the occasion?

When events are magnified out of proportion to their importance, you can experience heightened emotions that we can BIG feelings. Some people experience BIG feelings more frequently than others do, and they bring these BIG feelings to most situations, even simple ones like trying to decide what to wear.

To get your feelings right-sized, consider some of the worries and concerns you are having right now and write them down. Next to each item, assign a worry rate of 1-10, with 10 being the most worried you could be.

Next, using the same 1 to 10 rating, rate how catastrophic that worry actually is. For example, you may have rated you stress level for getting you gifts wrapped and mailed as an 8 because you waited too late, yet your catastrophic scale was a 4, as this is not the worst thing that could happen. Notice how the stress size was more than the actual situation.

The key is to keep each situation right-sized so as not to react in an overly BIG way.

"Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one

you know you have for sure."

-Joan Didion

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