What’s good everyone! I bring you this post in middle of the most “exciting” time of the year. First off, congrats for making it through Thanksgiving! Yeah……so we may have had a few extra pieces of pie and glasses of wine…. but hey, how else were we supposed to cope with the political rants of Uncle Bob.
Now we are only a few weeks out from Christmas and the stress is really starting to pile up. We have presents to wrap, travel plans to secure, a house to decorate, and end of year tasks to finish at work. On top of it all, the kids are bouncing off the wall with anticipation of ALL the presents and the looming extended time off school via winter break. None of these stressors alone are enough to throw us off our game; however, all these small things tend to add up to put our heads in a place that no amount of eggnog can rescue us from.
Besides being the catchiest pop punk song of the 2000s, the solution to this bag of stressors is to counter act them with all the other small things you have within your control. A combination of coping skills, mindfulness practice, and simple organization skills can give you the support you need to make it to the new year.
Here’s a list of tools that have helped me in the recent past…
o Breathe deep
§ This is the oldest strategy in the book and still the best
§ When things get tough, close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath
§ My favorite go-to is the 5-5-5 technique
· Take a 5-second inhale through your nose into you stomach
· Hold the breath for 5-seconds
· Breath out through your nose for 5-seconds
· Repeat this cycle 5x
§ I know this one seems obvious coming from a fitness blog; however, the science behind this is getting to be rock solid
§ Working out increases brain derived nootropic factor (BDNF) and will immediately increase your mood
§ Go long, go short, go medium, just go!
o Get some sleep
§ Shoot for 7+ hours a night
§ The less sleep you get, the higher the cortisol (stress hormone) levels are in your body
§ We will be diving much more into all that surrounds sleep in a future post but for now just try and make it a priority
o Stay present
§ Get away from social media, put the phone down, and give some high-quality attention to the ones you love the most
§ This is two-way, feel-good train will benefit both participants
§ Stay focused on the things that are in your IMMEDIATE control and let the rest go
o Stop complaining
§ The small things are never quite as bad as we perceive them to be; however, when we verbalize our burdens - we amplify them
§ Instead, try to only talk about things that are going well or exciting and see how your mood shifts (fake it ‘till ya make it)
o Make lists
§ Even if you have 3 things on your mind that you need to accomplish, it will often feel like 21 since you will run them through your head 7 times in the next hour
§ One way to combat this is to write down your to-do list and transfer that loop from head to paper
§ For those of us with multiple hats (e.g., work, family, hobby, etc) it is useful to make a list for each hat you wear that way you can prevent the lists from all running together
Above all else be sure to be kind to yourself. We are always our harshest critic, so in this holiday season, give yourself the gift of grace.
Be well my friends,