The most joyous time of year can also be the most stressful. The holidays bring pressure to gift everyone you know and love, mingle and small talk with people at parties, navigate family members’ opinions at the dinner table, and attempt to stay on track with our exercise and healthy eating regimens. Although some of these stressors are inevitable, there are some ways we can maintain a sense of mindfulness and intentionality amidst the holiday chaos.
First, remember to breathe. I was working with a client a few weeks ago who brings a lot of enthusiasm and zest to our conversations. I noticed, however, that while he was sharing a stressful work situation, he was not taking any breaths. I invited him pause to take a deep breath. One exercise that helps recalibrate your breathing is the 2/4/10 method. Breathe in for two seconds, exhale for four seconds, and repeat 10 times. You can do this simple exercise in your office, while driving, or while shopping at the mall.
Second, keep on track with your healthy regimens. Just as we prioritize getting tasks completed at work and home, it is imperative that we also prioritize our exercise routines and healthy eating habits. During this time of year, every time you turn around, someone is offering you a piece of chocolate or a glass of egg nog. Of course it is OK to indulge: just remember to supplement the indulgences with something that makes you feel good. Even a walk around your office building or standing while working can help balance how you feel.
Do you get nervous at cocktail parties? Or even your own work party? Do you get anxious making small talk with people you don’t know? If so, you are not alone. Parties are intended to be fun, but they can create a great deal of stress. One suggestion is to “buddy up” with a friend or a coworker you already know. It’s often easier to strike up a conversation with three people rather than just two.
Lastly, carve out some alone time. This can be especially hard with larger families; however, carving out an hour for yourself can help you maintain sanity. Even running an errand by yourself, or taking a drive. Solo time is a great way to stay grounded and clear-minded.
’Tis the season to be grateful for all that we have in our lives. Take care of the greatest gift of all: yourself.