Holiday Stress: How to Process It and Thrive

Posted on 12/4/2013 by Dr. Adrian den Boer
Categories: stress

With the holidays here, this is a time of the year to be fully enjoyed. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t and that really is a shame. We need to get smart on how we get through this time period and actually thrive! To do that, we have to manage what I call your “energy pie.”
We sometimes forget that we’re balancing a lot of things in life – jobs, families, hobbies, friends, and exercise – and there’s only so much time and only so much energy. I’ve found that my patients get stressed when their “energy pie” runs low, and they have so many unfinished tasks that are weighing them down. It often gets worse as the season progresses, and by the time they come to my office, they are completely overwhelmed.
Folks, there’s no need for this. There are a few basic things that need to be in place to balance your “energy pie,” and to enjoy the holiday season.
1) De-clutter your life.
This goes for both physical and mental aspects. So often, we clutter our minds by watching TV aimlessly, reading things that aren’t productive, and obsessing about things that really aren’t going to matter a year from now. Clutter can come in the form of a messy study or kitchen, too. Eliminate the aimless tasks and things that take up your time and mental real estate, and you’ll find space to better manage stress and relaxation.

2) Learn to say, “No.”
Besides de-cluttering, which is a great way to rid of distractions, it is absolutely critical to learn to say, “NO.” It allows you to focus on things that matter, and make efficient use of your precious time.

3) Find islands of peace.
This time of the year involves balancing a whole host of tasks. Finding short islands of peace throughout your day can go a long ways towards sustaining your energy. It doesn’t have to be long; take 5 – 10 minutes to step outside, take a few deep breaths, go for a quick walk, make tea, or even practice prayerful meditation.
4) Be thankful.
When things start getting really busy and stressed, one of the best emotions to counter this state is to practice being thankful. It brings inner peace. No matter your situation, there are always things to be thankful for! Look around you and make it a game. You will feel your brain state change very quickly.
5) Exercise!
Exercise is critical, and exercising efficiently during these times is a must. You don’t have time to walk aimlessly on a treadmill for two hours. Exercising efficiently allows you to greatly shorten the amount of time in the gym, with just as great of rewards.
6) Take care of your immune system.
This means sleeping and hydrating well, taking your vitamin D3, thinking good thoughts, and using food as medicine. Oh, and avoid SUGAR, which feeds bacteria. If you have trouble coming down at night from stress, there’s a neat new app called, GPS for the Soul.” It measures your heart rate variability and teaches you how to breathe properly. 
Remember to look at the big picture when things are really stressing you out, and ask yourself, “Does this really make a difference? Will this matter one year from now?” This will help you sort through what’s important and what’s not.
Folks, in taking care of your triad of emotional, physical, and spiritual health, you can overcome the stress of the holidays and enjoy this wonderful time!
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