For most of us the holiday season is one of stress, because of the many expectations we feel the need to live up to. Those who celebrate Christmas know the pressure which surrounds this time of the year. There are meetings to attend, holiday activities going on, family gatherings to plan, hundreds of emails to answer, phone calls to return, and so on. It seems like we can’t avoid the end-of-year vortex.
Many of us may have already succumbed to the pressure of decorating, buying presents and organising festivities. Some may even have arrived at their holiday destination, staying with family or friends abroad.
If you are still working, preparing, organizing, decorating or traveling… here are some tips to help you decompress. It doesn’t matter how much time you have to allot, a day, a week or even just half an hour, finding time to reconnect with yourself and disconnect from the seasonal stress, will help get you to a place where you can actually enjoy the holidays, in a much healthier way. Even those who are typically the most calm and focused at any other time are put to the test this time of year, with higher stress levels.
So pick one or more of these methods and try to apply them every day:
- Are you overwhelmed? Take a deep breath: hold it, and then let it out slowly. If you count to 10 as letting out your breath you can feel the tension flowing out with it too. Repeat this 3-10 times and you’ll notice that you release some tension and your heartbeat gets slower (if you have hypotension, don’t do it more than 3 -5 times). You can do this at any moment you are feeling tense. You don’t need to be on your own, you can do it even at the supermarket or while waiting for the bus.
- Do you need a time-out? Children are allowed to shut themselves away in their rooms when they want to be alone so why shouldn’t adults be allowed the same? If you need a bit of quiet time, choose a place to sit, close your eyes, relax, maybe take a nap. You can meditate or focus on something very calming. Reading a book, listening to music or doing manual work are all options for taking a break from the hubbub around us.
- Feeling tensed? When family or friends gather and everyone is overexcited we can easily feel tense. If possible, go outdoors, take a walk or run. A change in scenery can help relieve a tense situation. It’s not about walking away, it’s about finding a fresh perspective and reconnecting with ourselve. Connecting with nature and consciously seeing the beauty around us, helps us to re-balance. And while there, take the time to stretch and take some deep breaths, and enjoy.
- Listen to connect. This seems a contradiction but it’s not. To be heard and seen is what everyone expects especially during this time of the year. When families and friends reunite for days or even hours, everyone wants to tell what they did, what plans are, what they dream for, etc. but barely anyone listens. The interesting thing is that the less we talk, the more we listen and learn about others, which means the better we can connect with them, and with ourselves. Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak (Epictetus)
- Disconnect to connect. Turn off the phones and the computer, and shut off the outside world for a little bit because without knowing it, they can be elevating our stress level. Go offline and forget about the online world. We can only truly connect with ourselves and others by giving them (and us) our full attention.
I wish you success in your ability to decompress and connect during these days and like my yoga teacher says:
Geniet van de feestdagen, maak er iets goeds van en ik hoop jullie allemaal volgend jaar weer gezond terug te zien. (Enjoy your holidays, make something good out of it and I hope to see you all back healthy again next year.)