9 Ways to Make Your Holiday Season
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
It's the most
stressful time of the year. Do you remember when that line had "wonderful" in
it? Here are a few ways to get that feeling back. Let's face it, the holidays
are stressful. But we'll get through them. We always do. This year, let's do it
First, it helps if you know your
enemy. According to the American Psychological Association, lack of money (61%)
and the pressure of gift giving (42%) are the most significant contributors to
holiday stress. These are followed closely by lack of time (34%) and good ol'
credit card debt (23%).
Roughly 20 percent of us are
worried that holiday stress will negatively affect our health and over a third
will turn to food or alcohol to cope. On the upside, nearly half of us attempt
to use exercise and/or spiritual activities to relieve stress.
suggest that we're aware of the situation. So why is it such a problem?
Probably because we roll them into one big mess in our heads and allow it to
paralyze our actions, causing us to be reactive instead of proactive. Another
factor is articles like this one (but not this one, of course). Most
of them advise you to "not spend more than you can afford" and "get some
exercise" or "spend some time with yourself" or any number of activities that
if you could do, you wouldn't be stressed out in the first place. So,
basically, they just add to your already skyrocketing stress level!
So let's reshuffle the deck and
come up with some new ways to take the edge off.
- Don't go for a walk.
Or do any low-intensity aerobic activity unless you're
already calm. You know you should exercise and everyone tells you it's
important but rarely do they tell you how. During these periods, a walk around
the block has a very real possibility of increasing your stress levels. The
reason is that easy aerobic exercise only slightly elevates your breathing and
stimulates brain function. This allowsor inducesthought, which is
exactly what you don't need when your mind is already overloaded with tasks you
don't have time for. A walk, especially in a beautiful area, might calm and
enlighten you but it also could make you worse. You don't want to roll those
dice, especially when you're short on time and there are other things that
Do intense exercise.
Hard exercise is all-consuming. It forces you to focus on
your breathing or movement to the point where you can't think about
anything else. It also promotes hormonal release which alters your mood in a
positive way. When you're jumping up and down, lifting heavy weights, or having
a roundhouse kick launched at your head you can't think of anything else.
Intense exercise is the perfect de-stressor because you are being stressed in a
different way that's good for your body. It also doesn't take as long. Even if
your intense session is shorter than the time it took you to warm up (because
you need to warm up), you're still benefiting from every second your heart rate
exceeds your anaerobic threshold.
Get cocky (or at least
confident). What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and
how many holiday seasons have you survived so far? No matter how bad things
seem to be, you are going to get through it. And you know it, too, because
you've done it before. You do it every year. No matter how broke, how tired,
how busy, or how many family members you never want to see again descend on
your abode, you are going to survive and, come January 1st, be right back to
doing whatever you were doing before it all began. You know you canand
willmake it though, so why worry?
mornings. Ever notice that no matter how you felt when you
were falling asleep, you wake up feeling calm and relaxed? This feeling may
only last a few seconds but it's there, every day. You can force yourself to
control this feeling and hang onto it to the point where it permeates your
entire day. Statistics say that 14 percent of us use yoga or meditation to
combat stress but sometimes it's hard to find that state when you're already
amped up. Plus, these activities take time, which creates a catch-22 because
lack of it is adding to your stress. In the morning, you're already in a
meditative state. Enabling yourself to ride this state out for awhile greatly
enhances your ability to fend off stress throughout the day.
Here's one example of
an easy morning ritual.
Exercise while you shop,
and drive. Shopping is exercise already. You get the
physical benefits of a walk or hike and are mentally stimulated enough to
barely notice that its exercise. At least until you get into the car and feel
likewhoayou've just carried a bunch of weight up and down flights
of stairs. But this is no time to stop exercising. Use your time in the car to
de-stress and promote recovery. You can do breathing, stretching, and ab work
while you're driving (at lights or in slow traffic) and it won't be dangerous,
as the movements you want to do will make you more alert and supple so that
you'll react better towards all those stressed-out crazy drivers on the road.
Try some desk
stretches. You've probably heard or know that stretching
calms and relaxes you, but between Xmas parties, shopping, and getting the
house ready for family, who's got the time? You don't need any if you get
creative. You can steal a short stretching session from time you're devoting to
something else by looking for opportunities. You just need to be aware.
Possibilities are everywhere.
Think, don't drink.
You don't need to avoid holiday cheer altogether but keep
in mind that each drink you have will take away from your valuable time and
available energy. We tend to reach for alcohol during times of stress because,
up front, it alters our mood and temporarily eases the situation. But during
the holidays, money and time are causing most of your stress. Alcohol is
expensive and, even when it's free, it takes time. It's not so much the front
end that matters. Feeling hungover can zap the little extra energy that you
need to combat your stress and stay on top of your game. It's like adding a
handicap to your holiday challenge. So think ahead and strategize those
holidays events and they'll be so much easier to handle.
Remember what the
season is supposed to be about. The holiday season is
about embracing family and friends, not being beholden to them or showering
them with gifts you can't afford. The commerciality of Christmas has caused our
society to lose focus on what really matters. Since nearly half of us use
spirituality to combat holiday stress, we're trying already. But it takes more
focus than aimlessly going to church. We need to believe that the holidays are
about people and relationships, and not stuff. When you can do this, you'll
know that the last thing your friends and family want from you is something
that adds strain to your life. They just want you, which is why we refer to
them as friends and loved ones.
Take back the night.
After a whirlwind day it's easy to spend the evening
remembering things you'd forgotten and figuring out how you're going to fit
them in tomorrow. While it's great to try and be organized and efficient, this
is not the optimal condition for hitting the sack. If you can't go to sleep,
you're losing both valuable time and your ability to perform the next day. So
try and set a time each night when you finish working. Maybe write it down, or
whatever works for you, and then check if off the list. Then spend some time
de-stressing. Maybe read the kids a Christmas story, snuggle up on the couch
with It's a Wonderful Life, or get into bed with a cup of valerian tea
and a book. Do whatever you likejust make it for you and your family because,
ultimately, that's what the holidays are about. Sorry, Santa.