I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
We certainly had a great one, and have had the chance to visit with
family, show our son where we used to live along the South Shore of
Massachusetts (south of Boston), and see some of our favorite sites.
Well, we are moving head on into the holiday season.
Is it just me, or does it seem like there is less time now between
Thanksgiving and Christmas?
Seems like we barely get through Thanksgiving and the holiday
shopping and decorating have already started. It feels like we have
less time to get all the gifts purchased and decorations and lights
put up around the house.
I love this time of year. It’s especially fun if you have young
kids. However, I know the holidays can be quite stressful for many
Much of the stress comes from the extra things we have to do to
prepare. It also comes from anticipating having to share space and
time with some of those relatives who may drive you crazy.
The past few holiday seasons have been impacted by the recession
and so many people face, or have faced, extreme challenges to their
way of living, including job loss or reduction in incomes,
losing their homes, and so forth.
Many people – probably more than we realize – face the blues and
outright depression around this time of year. The holidays are very
emotional times. They can be lonely times for many people too.
The stress and emotions can have an impact on your health and
As you focus on the holidays, the things that gotta get done, the
emotions you may feel about certain people or traditions (or lack
of them)..well, you may become less aware of your body.
It’s also typical to tighten up your breathing and your body when
you are stressed or under pressure. Check your posture and your
breathing in the middle of a hectic day, and you will instantly
see what I mean.
I don’t want to dwell on the negative too much. I love this time
of year, even with all the extra work and activities.
So, let’s talk about what you can do to help transform the stress
of the holidays…so you have more fun, take time for family and
friends, and allow yourself to feel the joy the holidays represent.
A major step forward in transforming stress is to increase your
awareness of the stress signals in your body. Here are some of the
things you should be aware of:
-Physical symptoms: increased heart rate and breathing, upset
stomach, chest pains, muscle aches and pains
-Mental symptoms: decreased alertness, trouble concentrating,
forgetfulness, careless mistakes
-Emotional symptoms: tension, short temper, boredom, profound
fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, lack of interest in people or
-Behavioral symptoms: agitation, restlessness, major changes in
eating habits, substance abuse
Of course, you are unique so your own reactions to stress may
include some of the above, as well as other symptoms. It’s important
that you become aware of your particular reactions.
When you do, you can then shortcircuit the stress process before
it gets totally out of hand. A great way to do this is to identify
what and how your were thinking and feeling just before you felt
Stress usually stems from your interpretation and perception of
an event or circumstance, not the event itself.
For example, you think about all the shopping you have left to
do. And the holiday events you will be helping with or participating
in. And you also have a big project at work that must be completed
before year’s end.
You may start thinking, “How will I ever get all this done? I
will be rushing around at the last minute like I always do and
won’t have any fun.”
Here’s the trick: stop those lousy, negative thoughts. They
disempower you. They stress you. They make things even worse.
To make it simple: whenever you begin to self-talk in a negative,
worrisome way, say “Stop” or “Cancel” to yourself. Quietly and
emphatically repeat it whenever you engage in anxiety-provoking
Along with this, take a few moments to calm your breathing. Make
sure you are breathing through your nose. Allow yourself the
pleasure of five to 10 deep, relaxed breaths.
Stopping negative thinking is not easy and requires some discipline.
Your breathing is the key that helps you stop or cancel out the
worrisome thoughts and restore some perspective to your situation.
You are capable of handling what faces you with flying colors.
Sp stop that thought, enjoy some conscious breathing…and you
will give yourself the time and space you need.
You Can Do It!
P.S. In the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course,
Volume 1: Invigorate and Rejuvenate, you’ll discover an effective
and beneficial method for regrouping from stress and regaining
your natural calm and control. the sequence of exercises coupled
with a specific way of breathing, is easy to learn and only takes
a few minutes to do. You can read more about the course at
the Best Breathing Exercises website.
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2010.