Four Ways to Reduce Stress the Seasons
The holiday season can a heartwarming, restful time marked by pausing the more hurried workplace pace to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones. At the same time, expectations and tense family dynamics can add increased pressure. Regardless of which describes your holiday, taking time to mentally prepare for the upcoming events can moderate unnecessary stress of the season.
Here are four ways to help reduce stress:
Plan. Write it down.
Start your planning process by capturing ideas as they come to you. Brainstorm and list gift ideas for friends and family. Then, prioritize, purchase, and/or send them. If in charge of the holiday meal, start the process by deciding the best time of day for the meal and what to serve. Delegate dishes for others to bring. Invite help! If family members will stay overnight, choose where they will stay and what activities best fit your time together. Transfer everything that needs to be done from mental medley to paper or Notes on phone, iPad, or computer so thoughts are regulated to a “place in line.” Work through your list with steady, yet flexible, momentum. Instead of procrastinating, complete at least one, next, small thing on your list. Movement in the right direction makes for accumulated progress and a significant reduction in stress!
Let go of expectations.
Whenever a large group of people and personalities intermingle – especially if that large group is family – expectations typically run high; and quite a few of them will inevitably be unmet. The sooner you acknowledge this, the less burdened you can be. Planning is good, but you cannot control every circumstance and all people. Step back and choose a generous perspective. After all, the things that go wrong often make the best stories later.
Realize opinions do not have to define relationships.
Avoid offense to the opinions of others. Attribute value to the person and let his or her opinion be just that: his or her opinion, not yours. Listen tactfully to underlying emotions when discussing policies or people. Responding with dignity often moderates an impending argument. Moreover, avert undue stress fueled by anticipating what conversations may, or may not, take place. Choose your battles – and remember why you are grateful for people you do have in your life.
Find something for which to be grateful.
There is always something for which to be grateful. Preparations can be stressful; anticipated expectations can be stressful; interrupted routines, extra people, and extra work can be stressful. However, it is your privilege, your choice, to be grateful. Whether it be as simple as looking forward to a favorite dish or the fact that your family is only staying for a few days rather than two weeks, you can always find something for which to be grateful. Make a list. Recognize, note, and remember the many things in your life for which you are thankful. This season, capture the gift of perspective that gratitude gives.