I have come to the realization that I am already starting to feel the stress of the holiday season. It is slowly creeping into my body and my life.
I know with Halloween upon us, for many, it is a subconscious signal to our bodies and minds of the great things ahead. For many, the holidays are a great time to connect with family and friends and can still be stressful. For others there are many painful memories that come up around this time of year. If you are in the category of painful memories being brought up I encourage you to seek support somehow, there are lots of groups on meetup.com and support groups around the your area. By being around people that empathize with your situation, your feelings of loneliness or pain can be lessened and hopefully you can find some joy and peace. For those of you that see that holidays as a largely positive time of year, I have some tips to help you cope with the stressful part of the season.
One of the major sources of stress are all the thing we have to get done. Getting caught up in the “to dos” , shopping, and all the social events can be daunting, overwhelming an downright stressful. So what can you do? Ok so before you say that you don’t need something more to do, know that taking the next few steps can actually save you time and reduce your stress.
- Write a long list of everything you have to, should do, or want to do during this time period. Just take time to put it all down on a piece of paper, don’t hold back. I find that handwriting the list very helpful but you find your best method.
- Look at the list that you have created and do a short meditation. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. You can set a timer for 2 or more minutes so you can just focus on your breath for that time period.
- Eliminate and prioritize. Now it’s time to prioritize. What are some absolute, non-negotiable items, things you have to do no matter what? Mark those items with a star or any other symbol you would like to use. Now do what is usually the hardest part, cross out everything on your list that is a “should” something that you have been told you are supposed to do and you are just doing out of obligation. Now doesn’t that feel good!
- Take another look at the list. After you are done eliminating and prioritizing, you have a choice as to what you want to do next. Ask yourself, does your list look manageable? Is it really doable in the time you have available. If it isn’t it’s time to delegate or eliminate what you can. Once you do this you should be left with a much shorter list of things to do. If your list looks doable, I urge you to check to see if there is anything you can delegate.
- The next step is to look at any tasks that are going to involve more than one step and break it down into smaller tasks.
- Finally, put your list on your calendar/schedule. Pick specific times and days you are going to complete each task or micro-task. Make sure you schedule some slots of time for “catch up”. It is inevitable that there may be unexpected/unanticipated tasks, so it’s important that your schedule isn’t so packed that you are unable to handle the situation.
- Now that you have all your tasks scheduled. I have one more suggestion for you. Take some time for yourself. Do anything you enjoy, it can be anything you enjoy such as walking, running, yoga, writing, and reading. The key is that when you are engaged in the activity you are doing so with the intention that you are going to be present during the task and not thinking about what you need to do next. You can do this because you know you have scheduled out your tasks.
I hope this helps you organize before the holiday which will reduce your stress. I am going to continue discussing more strategies to deal with stress during the holidays in future posts.
If you or someone you know needs some support during the holidays and beyond to reduce their stress have them contact me for a complimentary destress session.