Five Ways To Harness Holiday Stress!

SG_HolidayStress Sometimes it can feel like if we look up the word “holiday” in the dictionary, we’ll find the word “stress” next to it. It’s like a given.

But it doesn’t have to be, and today I’m going to list five ways to avoid holiday stress.

1. MEDITATE.  Meditation is different things for each individual.  I don’t think of it as necessarily getting into the lotus position and chanting an “oooohm”, although this does work for millions of people (truth is, I couldn’t get in the lotus position if my life depended on it – lol). For me, I remember what I was taught in DBT, which is based on mindfulness. I try to train my eyes on something. Then I focus on my breathing. That’s it. I might even say the words to myself as I breath: “iiiiin,” and “ouuuut.” Thoughts will come into my head while I’m trying to focus on my breathing, but I let them pass like clouds in the sky (this takes practice). Try it.

2. BREATHE. I am generally an anxious person, as a rule. If there is nothing to worry about, I will find something. Trust me. And sometimes, under stress, I think we can forget to take the deep breaths we need. We get oxygen-deprived. It leads to fatigue and irritability. It’s one of the reasons you find yourself yawning and thinking, “What’s wrong with me? I got a perfectly good night’s sleep!”

3. SHOP ONLINE. Monday, December 17th is Free Shipping Day online! That’s pretty fantastic. Over 1,000 merchants are on board right now to ship packages right to your door free of charge so you can stay at home and shop in your pajamas. No need to fight the crowds at the malls, no need to go out in the cold/heat/snow/rain.  How cool is that? Just click on Free Shipping Day, say “I want to stay home!” and there you have it: the magic ingredients to a happy ending.

4. LIGHT A CANDLE. Aromatherapy is excellent for calming frayed nerves. Try Vanilla, jasmine, and patchouli especially. Right now there are candles that smell like evergreen trees at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Go crazy, just be sure to keep them away from anything flammable and blow them out before you leave the house or go to sleep. 😉

5. GO EASY ON YOURSELF. There is no such thing as a perfect anything, most especially a perfect holiday. Someone is always late, or early, a recipe doesn’t look like the picture, or doesn’t taste like great grandma Edna’s, the dog gets into the snacks that are set out for company, and you don’t have enough time to do everything you wanted to do… There are many things that can go wrong. There is one thing that can go right. How you respond to all the things that go wrong. How you take it in. Go easy on yourself . . . don’t internalize. It’s NOT the end of the world. It’s one day, or one of eight days, or one of six days or whatever . . . it’s a moment in a bajillion moments in time. You will always be you. Fantastic, a miracle, one in a million.

Peace out.

Tomorrow Can Wait

live-in-the-moment The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. ~Buddha

Why not just live in the moment, especially if it has a good beat? ~Goldie Hawn

Forever is composed of nows. ~Emily Dickinson

Okay, I’ve posted a lot about One Day At A Time, but . . . well I guess it’s because I think for me it’s one of the core parts of the Al-Anon program. And today I really need it. So bear with me.

I’ve gotten three hours’ sleep in the past 48 hours, and it’s exactly because I’m not living in the present. I think I mentioned I’m in a local choir. One of the group members has made it his personal mission to make sure I know what I’m doing wrong. 😉 Well, after our 1st Christmas concert, which I loved singing so much, he made a comment that gave me my first sleepless night. Then I caught up during the week.

But – as Friday approached (the next concert) I anticipated more and more the comment he made about the glaring mistake I had made. Thursday night I slept about three hours. Last night, even though the concert went well, I worried because the director herself reminded us about the mistake I myself had made. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t the only one doing it, but . . . Then last night I didn’t sleep at all.

So I’m exhausted. Scratch that. I’m beyond that point. You know when you get so tired that you can’t even sleep? But you don’t want to move . . . Tonight is our final concert, and tomorrow we go caroling.

What would it have hurt me to take the comment in for a moment, accept it as someone trying to be helpful, and let it go? (Sung to the tune of “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. . . 😉 )

I would have been rested and happy today. Because all we can do is the very best we can with what we have been given at the time, and for this day, this moment. THIS is all there is. It’s such a beautiful thing, life, that to waste one moment of it in worry is to lose something we’ll never get back.

If you are struggling with anything this season: gift-buying, long lines in stores, traffic, harried customers, party preparations, parties to get to, difficult relatives . . . take several deep breaths. Remember this. Nothing lasts forever. You only have to handle this one day, one hour, one moment. 

Peace out.

Easy Always Does It Better

So. Stuff happens. Into each life a little stress will come, some more than others. I just got off the phone with an old friend of mine, who has bipolar like I do, and she has been hospitalized twice since April because of rapid cycling. New meds aren’t really helping, so she’s dealing as best she can.

Stuff happens. It’s what we do with the stuff that either helps us or hurts us more. 

One of my (for I have a few) favorite slogans in the program is Easy Does It. When something stressful happens in my life, when something goes way wrong, I have one of two responses.

Curl up like a fetal ball on the couch and watch mindless TV, or go all in. I’m absolutely sure I hold all the best cards, they will carry me through whatever decisions I have to make—if they aren’t the best cards, I’ll make them the best cards. I’ll turn them upside down, or sideways or backwards . . . somehow those cards will fit the problem facing me.

They’re the cards I’ve been dealt, and dammit I’m going to make them work if it kills me. 😉 I’m not going to ask for help, I’m not going to stop to think, not me.

Any of this sound familiar? Do you ever try to force solutions when the easiest thing to do is to step back and take a breath first?

know not to trust my first instincts, so to go into any situation blindly, guns blazing, is going to turn out badly. I’ve learned that the hard way. It’s not been pretty. There have been casualties. I could tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you. 😉

Now I know that, yes, I have to press pause when I get bad news. I have to talk it through with people I trust. I have to let myself feel any strong feelings I have first–get them out–before I head into the stressful situation. Maybe I’ll even knit a little bit, or take Lucy for a walk. I’ll definitely pray. God will hear about my fears and my feelings.

What about you when stuff happens?

Peace out.