It’s the holiday season, and while it should be filled with joy and cheer, it’s often filled with added stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. I know a lot of people are already feeling it. It usually starts around Halloween and works its way into Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Years. It doesn’t have to be this way. In the video below, I’ll share 6 strategies to banish holiday stress.
During the holiday season, your schedule gets really full. You may tend to overbook yourself. You’re around more friends and family than normal. You have people staying at your house or you’re traveling. You’re not in your everyday routine and things may get a little chaotic.
You have to adapt by putting specific techniques into practice myself so you can maintain that sense of calm, peace, and relaxation.
I’m going to share a few of my favorite strategies to banish holiday stress so that it doesn’t control you.
We are not going to allow the stress, anxiety, or overwhelm control you. There are different things that you can implement starting today, to get any excessive stress and anxiety under control and start to feel a sense of calm and peace.
Using your own breath is a powerful tool, and it’s one of the easiest ways to banish holiday stress. You don’t have to go anywhere to do it. You don’t have to pay anything to do it. You have access to it all the time, and it’s free. Your breath is really interesting. It’s the one function in your body that is controlled by both the Autonomic Nervous System, and your conscious nervous system.
We can control our breath, but it’s also one of the functions that works in the background all the time without you having to think about it kind of like your heartbeat, your blood pressure and those types of functions. It’s a really neat function that we have in our body that works by itself or that we can consciously control and regulate.
When we’re living in chronic stress when we’re busy and we’ve got a million things going on, we’re probably not thinking about how we’re breathing. But if we really tuned into it and became aware of it, we find that we’re taking shallow chest breaths. And that’s not the proper way to breathe. It actually activates your sympathetic nervous system, which is your fight or flight, and so that just continues to perpetuate your stressed out survival state.
So when we can tune into our breath and change it, we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system of our body, which is our rest and digest and relax.
So there’s a couple of different techniques you can do with your breath that are going to help calm the mind and calm the body. You can do them for three to five minutes if that’s all the time, you have, and you’ll notice a profound shift.
The box breath is when you breathe in for a count of four or five hold for an equal count.
Exhale for an equal account and hold again for an equal count. So, breathe in for four, hold for four, exhale for four, and hold for four. Repeat for three to five minutes.
I always recommend breathing in through the nose and breathe out, either through the nose or the mouth.
I encourage you to give that a try and see how that works for you.
Another breath technique is called rest and relax and I learned this through a breathwork training I’m doing called SOMA and there are several different types of breath techniques to achieve certain results and one of them is called rest and relax. With this technique you breathe in and then you extend the exhale and make it as long as you can.
With this technique, you’re activating your parasympathetic nervous system, your rest, relax, and digest state so you can calm the mind. The way this one works is you take a deep belly breath in through your nose. And then you’re going to exhale really, really slowly. Almost like you’re breathing out through a straw. You can do 20 to 30 repetitions of this.
Another simple technique is to double the length of your exhale. So breathe in for four and out for eight. This will help calm you down.
Something that I love to do is journaling. If you are feeling triggered by a person or an event or a situation then getting it out of your head and onto paper is really helpful. Journal about the experience. You can write out your frustrations, you can write out how you’re feeling and take time to feel those feelings. So often we try to forget about them, suppress them, or bury them. But when we do that, they don’t go away. They fester and they grow.
So feeling those feelings without judgement. Sometimes getting them out of your head onto paper helps you separate yourself from the emotion and allows you to release it. Letting it go is necessary.
Another form of journaling that is really helpful is gratitude journaling. If you’re not feeling a lot of gratitude in your situation then I recommend gratitude journaling and really spending time thinking about the things that you’re grateful for and the things that you appreciate. If you can only think of one thing, write it down. I encourage you to try to make a list of things that you’re grateful for. There’s nothing too small.
Gratitude and appreciation is the quickest way to forgiveness. So if you are holding a grudge or resentment towards another person, a situation, or perhaps towards yourself, then finding gratitude helps cultivate forgiveness.
Unforgiveness is only going to hurt you. It doesn’t hurt the other person. Michael Beckwith says “100% of forgiveness is self forgiveness” and that’s because if you’re holding onto resentment and not able to forgive somebody for something that they did to you, it’s not hurting them. It’s only hurting you. So being able to cultivate gratitude and appreciation is one way that you can allow yourself to forgive the unforgivable and let it go.
Meditation is the next technique to banish holiday stress. some people are a little afraid of it because they don’t feel like they’re good meditators, but there’s no such thing as a bad meditator. Also, you don’t have to meditate for hours on end.
You can meditate for five minutes. It’s simply allowing yourself to be in a quiet space with no distractions and allowing yourself to listen to what comes up. Sometimes that’s uncomfortable, but it’s when it comes up that you can let it go.
Start with 5 minutes and some relaxing music. You can do a guided meditation or a meditation where you’re counting your breaths.
Walking in Nature
Get outside and go on a walk. If you’re in a situation where you are angry, upset, frustrated, stressed, remove yourself from that situation and go on a walk outside. That’s going to calm you down.
And a lot of these other things you can do while you’re walking. You can do a walking meditation, you can do breathwork while you’re walking. So even if it’s a 10 minute walk, it’s super powerful.
Setting boundaries is really, really important when you are around relatives and loved ones, because oftentimes those are the relationships that tend to not always have healthy boundaries established.
You may get opinions forced on you or advice shared to you that you really didn’t ask for or ways of thinking or belief systems that you don’t necessarily agree with. We’re all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs, and there needs to be a level of respect among family.
Cultivate healthy boundaries to say “I respect you and your point of view, but I don’t feel the same way. And I would ask that you respect me as well.”
Whether it is setting boundaries around certain topics of conversation that don’t need to be brought up over dinner on Christmas because you know it’s going to turn into an argument or is going to cause a lot of tension. That may be political conversations, that may be religious conversations, it may be conversations about how to raise your children.
Make it clear in advance that these conversation topics are off the table. They will not be discussed when we’re together and saying it in a loving way but a very firm way as well is really, really important.
The last strategy I’m going to share to banish holiday stress is essential oils because I find essential oils to be a great tool for supporting your emotions, reducing stress, and helping release any negative emotions that might be coming up.
OnGuard is a perfect blend for protection. It’s our protective blend for immune support so it keeps you healthy. But it’s also very protective for your emotional health as well.It helps you keep boundaries around you and protect you from absorbing any negative energy. It’s a great blend to diffuse in your home and apply to the bottom of your feet.
Here are some other oils for specific emotions that might arise. This information comes from a wonderful book, called Emotions and Essential Oils.
If you’re triggered by something and it causes anger. Some really good oils to combat anger are cardamom and ylang ylang.
The best way to diffuse emotions is to diffuse the oils. You can also wear them topically so you can smell them. Put them on your wrist, over your heart, on the back of your neck, behind the ears, or bottom of the feet. Those are all great places to apply the oils, so you have them on you.
The next emotion that might arise is anxiousness. If you’re feeling anxious in certain situations, around certain people, then Breathe is a really good blend to be diffusing or to apply onto your chest. Breathe is our respiratory blend and helps open the airways. Oftentimes if you’re experiencing anxiety, you’re having a hard time breathing. Take deeper, slower breaths to calm those feelings of anxiousness. Serenity is another great option. It’s great for calming an anxious mind.
If you’re feeling frustrated at any point then geranium and Roman Chamomile are really good oils to incorporate. These two oils are great to help release any sort of frustration that you might be feeling.
I encourage you to incorporate some of these strategies to banish holiday stress so you can make the most of the holidays with your friends and family.