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Creating a Stress-Free Holiday

The holidays are officially upon us – a time of year that’s known for a) being incredibly busy; and b) a massive load of stress. Maybe you even have several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to, and/or the daunting task of battling the mall crowds to find gifts for the people you love. Throw all of this on top of your normal every day life. Overwhelming much?

It's time share with you some of personal favorite ways to get through this busy, stressful time of year and make this season an enjoyable, low-stress time you will remember with wonderful memories.

Let's get to it! Those secret weapons…

Put forth great effort to be present. It can be difficult, absolutely. It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or email when we have a free moment – do you do the same? One way to dodge this is to leave electronics in another room altogether. Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from communicating with your gathered love ones.

When my brain is feeling completely all-over-the-place, what really helps is focusing on my senses. What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I feel? Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else. It’s an amazing tool to use to dial in and be present – and is a great strategy to use year-round, not just during the holidays!

Take a deep breath. If we're just not getting the oxygen what we need for our brains and bodies to function well, and putting ourselves in stressful situations can amplify the effect. Can you remember the last time you took a deep belly-breath? This gets the oxygen flowing in your brain and body so you're able to re-focus and better deal with whatever stressors the holidays throw at you. When you feel that anxiety or unsettled feeling rising, recognize it. Then, take a deep breath: inhale for 8 counts, pause briefly at the top, and exhale for another 8. It's like a magical reset button you can push anywhere - whether you're at battle in the mall parking lot, or waiting in line for the last turkey at the grocery store.

Give up expectations. A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be the way we see on TV or in movies: perfecty-perfect. That’d be lovely, of course – but putting your entire extended family in one house might mean things get temporarily ugly! So, setting that bar low and not expecting perfect behavior, perfect food, a perfect house, and a perfect family/friends will allow you to just let it roll for when something comes up. There is joy to be found in each situation, even when we don't see it immediately. So when things don’t go exactly as you planned (a difficult task for us Type A personalities!) – see if you can find gratitude in the circumstance and enjoy as much of your time as you possibly can. 'Tis the season!

Find time to move. It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel. Even if it’s just a brisk walk after lunch or dinner – make it a habit to bundle up in your favorite scarf and winter coat to go for a walk alone to clear your mind, or with someone you enjoy being around. Be sure that you are getting your time outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, while burning off some calories and getting that heart rate up.

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