Monday, November 14, 2011

Tis the season... be stressed out!

Don't get me wrong - I love this time of year.  And there are two kinds of stress - positive and negative.  But both are called STRESS for a reason!

This is the time of year when things get, as my best friend Lisa might say, insane in the membrane.  Aside from the obvious holidays, my family has a lot of milestones in November and December.  My big sister kicks off the season with her birthday on November 1st (right after Halloween, which you can also count if you put a lot of time and mental energy into your Halloween), then it's my anniversary with Marc on the 13th, then Thanksgiving, then my birthday on December 13th, his on December 15th, then before you know it it's Christmas and New Year's.

Whew.  I'm tired just typing that - and I wouldn't be surprised if I had left something out.

All of these days and events are happy, exciting, positive things.  I look forward to each and every one, but they come with a lot of planning, anticipation, preparation, and often involve travel.  I think this time of year can get so many people bogged down and zapped of their energy, aside from the major sugar high/crash we all get from the extra sweets of the season, is because our minds can get stuck in that anticipatory mode where we're always thinking about the future.  Or perhaps, a holiday party was stressful and you can't stop thinking about how it went.  It's a season of major highs and major lows, and as a result it can feel impossible to get anchored into the present.

To prevent what sometimes feels like inevitable burnout this time of year, go on the offensive - go through your calendar and carve out 10 minutes a day to chill.  Not to zone out in front of the TV (although I'm not denying the fact that that can be an EXCELLENT way to destress), not to get lost in the labyrinth of facebook, but to put yourself into a restorative yoga pose.  Or to just lie down on a mat or on your bed, whether you want to call it savasana or a catnap.  Maybe write in your journal for ten minutes to make a little space in your chattery mind.

If it's one of those days where you're truly swamped from the time you get up to the time your head hits the pillow, find little moments to take a mini break.  A 3 minute meditation on your breath while waiting in line to purchase gifts can make a surprisingly big difference in your mood, or maybe try taking 5 minutes to throw your legs up the wall while your coffee or tea cools down and your bread is in the toaster.  Whatever it might be, make yourself a priority, and notice if you feel like you're being run ragged.

The last suggestion I'd have is to comb through your to-do list and look for anything you can possibly eliminate.  I'm no fan of procrastination, but because of that I often overwhelm myself with tasks that really aren't that urgent.  This season, with all the gift buying, travel plans, party plans, holiday cards, et cetera, to-do lists that are full on a normal day can often balloon to an unmanageable size.  Give yourself a break and look for things that can be done another day - or even another month!

I'm hoping to snag a bit of each of these suggestions for myself for a more peaceful, less mentally frantic holiday season.  The most important thing is to remember the greater meaning behind all of these special events and occasion.  Focus on the positive aspects and remember, above all, to have fun!

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