6 TIPS FOR MANAGING STRESS OVER THE HOLIDAYS

The holidays are a special time to gather with family and friends and to celebrate our many blessings.  It’s also a time where we tend to over-indulge or over-extend ourselves.  We stress ourselves out, taking on too much of everything – too much eating, too much shopping, to many parties, too many commitments, too much travel.

In a perfect world, this time of year would be like a Carry Grant Holiday Special where the family calmly sips cocoa by the hearth after a day of ice skating on the pond and reminisces about their delicious dinner and the day’s festivities.  The reality is usually much different though.

In most families the day is filled with people tripping over each other in the kitchen getting dinner prepared, and the days leading up to it are a scramble to find all the things on everyone’s list and get them wrapped.  Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional and physical well-being.  It can be difficult to find time for yourself right now, I know, but it’s more important than ever to carve out the time for resting so you don’t end up with anxiety, bad moods, poor sleep, lack of energy, bad digestion and a compromised immune system (or worse).

As Winter approached, the days became shorter with less sun.  It’s interesting to see how the seasons affect our energy levels.  In the wild, animals slow down in the Winter and even sleep more than usual.  Bears hibernate through the winter to rest and recharge so they may emerge renewed in the Spring.  Now I know there’s no way any of us can take four or five months off; but, like the bears, we can carve out some time for ourselves to rest and renew each day.

It’s a known fact that bears do not sleep the entire time they’re hibernating.  They move around and they sometimes even leave their den.  I like to think that bears are spending their time meditating and practicing breathing exercises to calm the mind.  Meditation and breathing are a great way to rest and recharge and this can be done in just a few minutes each day.

Even if all you can find are 10 minutes everyday for yourself, this can be crucial for your peace of mind.  With peace of mind comes a better mood, more energy, and better health.  Think of these ten minutes as your daily hibernation.  Do yourself a favor and don’t miss this time with yourself.  You must make this a priority so you can be your very best self with good moods and sustained energy.    Trust me, your family will appreciate that you are in good health over the Holidays and if you make this a regular practice, you can be your best self for them all year long.

Here are 6 tips for managing stress over the holidays and creating time for yourself:

  1. Let your family know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and when you will be doing it so they know how important it is and they make sure to leave you alone.
  2. Mark your daily meditation on the family calendar if you have to, and never apologize for taking this time.  It’s only 10 minutes!
  3. Look at your calendar to see where you can carve out this time.  What are your absolute commitments and where might be some time wasters (surfing the internet, watching T.V., etc.) that could be replaced by your hibernation time?
  4. Is the only time you get to yourself in the early morning, during your commute, or at work on your lunch break?  See if you can carve out the time there.  Try waking up ten minutes early, or sitting in your car outside of work for an extra ten minutes, or during your lunch break, find a quiet space in the office where you will not be bothered.
  5. Plug in a diffuser in the space where you’ll be hibernating and add some grounding essential oils such as Frankincense or White Fir.
  6. Calming, grounding and creating peace-of-mind through focused breathing (pranayama):
    1. Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position.  Note: if your hips are tight, you may sit on the edge of a folded blanket so your knees are below your hips.
    2. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart
    3. Observe your normal breathing for a little while.
      • Notice how your breath, on the inhale, fills your belly, then your ribs, and then your chest, and on the exhale, your breath spills out of your chest, ribs, then belly.
    4. Gradually increase the volume of breath
    5. Begin the 3-part breath
      • Inhale one-third into the belly, one-third into the ribs (making sure to expand to the sides and back), and one-third into the chest.
    6. Hold the breath for a moment
    7. Exhale smoothly and evenly, as though spilling water out of glass.
    8. Hold the breath out for a moment
    9. Add the mantra: “Let it” as you inhale, “Go” as you exhale
    10. Continue for five to ten minutes

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