2 Ways to Help Ease Stress

The holidays are a test to anybody's patience.  Juggling normal day in and day out responsibilities on top of preparing for the holidays (the gatherings, the food, the presents), and dealing with congestion of stores, roads, etc. is enough to send anyone over the edge.  Figuratively speaking of course!  And I can't give you a secret recipe to make all of that go away, or at least I haven't figured that out yet.  Because as much as this season will always be filled with all things wonderful (family, love, happiness and cheer), it will also always be accompanied by laundry lists of things to do, stores to visit, lines to wait on, traffic to sit in, presents to fight to get.

But, while I can't give you the secret to take all of the stressful things away from the equation, I can share with you 2 things I've learned that help me cope better, return to peace and happiness, and walk away a little less wound-up.  And it doesn't expire at the end of the holiday season, either! You can try these out anytime you're starting to feel a little overwhelmed! 

OMG, you always say that!  Yes, I do!  And for good reason.  You see, one long, slow deep breath helps lower the heart rate and sends a signal to the brain that the body can relax, countering the fight or flight response it's currently experiencing.  Not to mention, when your body calms, you can think a little more clearly!  And the deep breath doesn't have to be anything special!  Just take a deep breath in, and slowly let it out. Done.  It's that easy!  It's even worthwhile to take a few long deep breaths, to really calm the body down.

Sometimes all it takes is stepping back for a moment to put everything into perspective.  So, hypothetical with me here....you leave work, head to the grocery store to shop for Christmas dinner and as soon as you get there it's mobbed and you manage to find the last parking spot like a half mile away from the store, or so it seems.  Two hours later you get home and still have to cook dinner for your family, but because you were multitasking (i.e. bathing the kids, helping with homework, perhaps unloading the dishwasher,...you know, normal super human multitasking), you left the chicken in the oven too long and it burned.  Like, on-fire-burned.  And your husband, who thinks he's Gordon Ramsey, is giving you the look that you may not be as capable as you think in the kitchen and you've got another thing coming if you think he's going to eat that.  Not to mention, tomorrow is Christmas Eve and you still have to rush out to get a gift for your beloved Gordon and yet you have absolutely no idea what that would be.  Ok, ok!  I could go on, and on, with this hypothetical situation, which may not even be all that hypothetical to some of us, but the point is, everything is rushed and not coming together as you need it to and all you want to do is scream, or cry, or, my favorite, run away.  PAUSE and STEP BACK.  Step outside of yourself and your situation in that very moment and take a look around.  Remind yourself all that you have to be thankful every day: your family, your job, your health, your vehicle, the ability to purchase gas and groceries, etc.  All blessings that you have every single day.  Next, I want you to think about all of the things that went right that day - maybe you rocked that big meeting and finished all of your work before leaving the office, you survived the mob at the grocery store and really only forgot the crescent rolls which you can totally just substitute homemade biscuits for (which will be fresher and not contain a bunch of garbage preservatives), and though you burned the chicken you still made plenty of steamed broccoli and rice (which could really be a meal in and of itself),....see where I'm going with this?  It's all about focusing on the positives and not on the negatives.  Because at the end of the day, rest assured that everything is going to work out and come together as it should, and that, in and of itself, is a blessing.

That all being said, clearly I realize that I'm not telling you something you don't already know.  However, if you're anything like me, a reminder every now and then helps, because the more you hear it, the more you do it.  And the more you do it, the less you have to consciously try to do it, as it'll end up just coming naturally to you after a little while.  When it becomes second nature to you, you'll have such a different outlook on life and generally be less stressed, happier, and healthier because of it!  Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season!!



April Fee