What Is Holiday Stress and How to Manage It (Part II)

by - December 26, 2017

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Welcome to Part II of What Is Holiday Stress and How to Manage it. Last week we touched on one of the main obstacles we encounter to peaceful and happy holidays - striving for perfection. And as I've shared with you a technique to overcome the need to be perfect in everything, this week it's time to pay attention on how important for our health and well-being it is to focus on the now, appreciate the moment and be kind to ourselves. If we find a way to incorporate them into our cognition and behavior, we will be better able to cope with the intensive demands not only of this holiday season, but into the new year beyond!

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Planning leads to anxious anticipation and anticipation often brings us stress along the way. You've done all you could and now you have to wait, but don't accompany the waiting with worrying about how things are going to turn out. Just wait and even better - focus on the present moment. If you think about this moment right now for a second, I believe you'll discover a whole pool of opportunities to focus your attention on. I know our minds take us on a wild ride across all thoughts and scenarios, but don't forget that you have the final say every time your thought process brings you to the point of worry in the future. You have the power to gently remind yourself what you can think of instead and fully allow yourself to feel the moment now.

I used to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and stressing about events in the near future and as you can guess -  it was not worth it. I convinced myself that I don't have the ability to change it, but after months of work I was astonished at how wrong I was. Yes, some of us have been worriers since we were young, but it doesn't mean that we can't go to the other side and feel the peace in the present that others might have always found. The 'now' is for everyone, even for us, the worriers. It takes time and I wish I could tell you it was easy, but nothing of value comes easily. We have to show that we truly want it, so next time you fret about organising that holiday trip, think of all the things you could and could not do (don't deprive yourself from a little bit of quiet idleness) in the moment you have now.

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As I pointed out in the beginning, holidays don't have to bring only stress. You can enjoy them, all you have to do is allow yourself to. In the haste between one thing and the other, crossing things off your list can easily take priority over your own comfort, but only if you let it. Know that you are worthy of feeling happy, regardless of the demands weighting on you. The truth about demands and pressure is that they never really go away, they just change. If you wait for the moment when you'll be free of duties and problems, you will have to wait a long time. So stop that waiting and take action to adopt an appreciation to every little (and big) thing around you - the glimmering lights on the tree, the fresh chilly air in the mornings, the annoyingly chirpy festive songs crawling the sound systems in the department store... and enjoy the holidays. Don't postpone happiness for a better day when you might have a lighter schedule. I can tell you for certain that such day is bordering on illusion - your schedule may look more flexible tomorrow, but does it guarantee that you won't find something else to tackle that day? Don't wait for the most convenient-looking moment when you will be finally mentally ready to start feeling joy. Live in appreciation every day, especially in the busiest ones. 

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Self-awareness is healthy and criticism when constructive also is. Be mindful when it turns into unconstructive, you'll notice it by the change of tone it brings. When you're being constructive you keep trying to learn and improve, yet you stay in the lane of kindness and understanding. The moment your mind fills itself with harsh thoughts of self-blame and accusations of all sorts (e.g. why you said this or that and why you didn't do something better) then you enter the spiral of unconstructive self-criticism that not only doesn't help in your growth, but also works against you. Don't beat yourself up over forgetting your sister's shoe size or arriving late to a meeting after a night of anxiety over the presentation you had to scramble up in the last minute. You are aware of what you did, you don't need to overthink it and reinforce the negativity by bringing yourself down for something you can't redo. Observe the direction of your thoughts and the minute they become unconstructive, remind yourself that you're aware of this and that you're not going to follow this route. Forgive yourself, it's normal to make a mistake - you're not perfect (newsflash!). Show yourself some of the kindness you'd give your sister if she got you the wrong size shoes. Be understanding of who you are and your everyday efforts to be on time and the great job you're doing. Don't notice only the flaws, there's plenty of amazing traits that you can't let yourself overlook.

I hope you enjoyed our first two-part piece. I wish you a great time over the holidays (and after) and let us know what you liked, and of course, what you didn't!

Wellness is the place where you can join us on our journey to test some of those lifestyle tools and techniques the world has given us in its attempt to help us 'relax'. Working out, breathing, foods to avoid or cling to, journaling, and so on. We will share with you what worked, what didn't, and what surprised us most. And of course, encourage you to try your own!

Previously on Wellness - What Is Holiday Stress and How to Manage it (Part I)


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