Every year I’ve been noticing an increasing tendency for holiday time stress. I don’t know if it’s the bills, the bad party food, the realization that yet another year is almost over and maybe you didn’t meat your goals, but I just want to invite everyone to chill. You can draw a line and say :” You know what, November and December are months like all other months. Yes I will see more family and have more errands to do, but I will do my best to enjoy myself. I refuse to stress over small things. I choose to chill.” Easier said than done, so here are some easy chill tips for you to incorporate into your life, so you don’t end up all tired, burnt out and 10 lbs overweight come January.
Spend quiet time with yourself: whether it’s 5 minutes, or an hour long session, give yourself time to just sit still and quiet. This is a time to ”not do” that reminds you that you are a human being, not a human doing. Sit comfortably on the floor with your back against a wall, or lay on your bed. Close your eyes and observe your breathing. Become aware of thoughts as they come, and let them pass without taking action. If you already have a meditation practice, use what works for you and be consistent in taking quiet breaks every day. Even 5 minutes can make a difference.
Choose when to react: we consider stress to be something that happens to us, like :” This guy stressed me out!”, where in fact stress is our own reaction to a stimulus. Try to be aware of when your stress is caused by something inevitable, like seeing your kid falling and scraping a knee, or is happening because of something you choose to tell yourself, such as: ”I can’t believe this traffic is so horrible, we will be so late! I hate traffic!” or ”These Black Friday people are nuts, I can’t believe anyone can be so crazy to go shopping at midnight!”. You don’t have control over anything around you, but you can choose what to focus your attention to and not to create extra stress by complaining, negative thinking and focusing on the same thing over and over again.
Practice saying ”No”. This one is hard, especially if you like being nice, you are helpful and people like to lean on you for advice, for a shoulder to cry on, or for favors. The Holidays are busy and being busy means that your mind and body need extra time to rest. You may not be able to do the same amount of errands, favors, parties, meetings, etc. that you are used to at other times. This is a good time to say ”No”. Let’s practice: “‘Can you dog sit for me while I travel?” – ”No! We love Fluffy, but we really can’t this time!”; ”Can you please come to my sister’s brother’s lawyer’s cousin’s charity event? ” – ”No! I would really love to, but I can’t.”
Cultivate awareness. We covered this in Episode 2 of the Eat Well Move Well Podcast, so go ahead and listen to it if you didn’t. You can cultivate awareness or presence in anything you do during the day. The goal is to engage all the senses: your eyes, your ears, your nose, your touch. If you are cooking, pay attention to the colors of the ingredients, the sound of the knife against the cutting board, the smell of the peppers, how they feel against your fingers. If you are getting ready for an important meeting, notice the smell of the room, the sounds outside, the fabric of the folder you are holding, the color of the light. This helps quiet the mind and ease anxiety.
Spend time in nature. There is nothing that recharges more than a walk on the beach, finding a new path in the woods, laying in grass, hugging a tree (I won’t hide I am a tree hugger ;)). Fresh air and bright light are healing to the body, especially if you spend your week in an office with artificial light. If it’s warm enough you can even get some vitamin D and enjoy its mood boosting effects. I am a believer in grounding and use every chance I have to take my shoes off on one of those walks.
Eat a great diet. When you can. The reality is the Holiday season is a time when we eat more meals out of the house, reach for ready prepared foods, forget to eat a healthy breakfast, and overdo coffee and alcohol. The capacity to relax and feel physically and mentally balanced will be greatly compromised if sugar, sweeteners, artificial fats and fast foods are playing with your brain chemistry. For all those times you are at a party, read How to be a smart party animal!
Explore the power of Magnesium. I have enjoyed deeper, more restful and renewing sleep since starting to take Magnesium. I like a form called Magnesium Glycinate, which is easy to absorb, so you don’t have to take so much. I’ve had great results with only 400 mg taken before bed. Another chill pill I love is Omega 3s from fish oil, but you can certainly get those from eating enough fatty fish.
How do you chill? Let us know here or on Facebook, we would love to know!