Opinion

How to navigate the perfect storm of stress and anxiety this holiday

You can’t escape it, it’s everywhere. House values are plummeting, mutual funds are shrinking, and jobs are in jeopardy. Oh my.

The weather is getting cold and rainy, and the most stressful time of year for many folks -- the holidays -- is upon us. As if that isn’t enough to get you down, all of the Seattle sports teams are horrible this year … all of them.

Do you think people might be a bit stressed out these days? Let me wake you up to some facts: Stress causes weight gain, doctor visits, and lower productivity -- causing you even more anxiety and financial burdens.

So how do you skillfully captain the ship of you and sail through these rough seas so that you stay healthy and get back to the smooth waters of abundance and feeling good again?

Here are powerful tips for you to reduce stress now and feel great no matter what happens next:

1. Accept that which you can’t change. Too many of us have been programmed with a false notion that they always need to be in control. You are not the master of the universe. You are not in control in so many aspects of your life that you are completely okay with, like driving a car. Use that same ability to go with everything else you can’t control.

What you can easily change is how you look at or perceive things and events. Look for the silver linings in the clouds. To start to change your negative feelings, just begin a sentence with: “Well, at least … ” Then, fill in the blanks. Because we all know that things can always be worse, you can be grateful for what they are right now. Or better yet, find some humor in your circumstances.

2. Live below your means. Get creative and think outside the box with ways to make saving money fun. How great would it be if we cooked more meals at home and all ate together at the dinner table? Why don’t you give the gift of a handwritten letter to someone you care about telling them all of the things you like about them for a holiday gift. I dare you to see if you can live without TV or pay movies for a week, or maybe just a couple of hours in the evening for starters. “Oh no, we might have to actually talk to one another, read books and play games instead, huh?” Somehow, in some other dimension of reality, our parents and grandparents lived this way … gasp!

3. Exercise, and deep breathe a lot more. You’re not doing enough of this, and you already know the benefits. Decide now that this is important to you, and get up off that easy chair and go for a walk. Get out of your head for awhile, get into your body, and feel those endorphins as your stress reduces.

4. At holiday gatherings and parties, play nice with others. Be honest with yourself and honor those that invite you. Be polite with those you don’t like, and enjoy the connections for what they are. Make it a point to connect with uplifting people as much as possible throughout the season. Avoid the energy drains. Then, choose to be one of those uplifting people, and enjoy all that attention.

5. Practice saying, “No thank you.” Take unnecessary commitments off your plate and schedule open blocks of golden time to do things you’ve always wanted to do.

6. Get organized. Create habits so that you’re early or on time, and simplify your life. Clutter, rushing, and procrastination cause much stress.

Take care of all of these little things so that you can be at your best for handling the big things. It can be easy if you just get into the habit. Think of you and your stress like a glass of water. The perfect storm fills the glass up to a certain point. Identify your stressors, take the actions above, and leave room in your glass so it doesn’t overflow.

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