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Natural Awakenings Hawaii

How to Enjoy a Stress-Free Holiday Season: Put the Merry, Joyous and Happy Back!

Oct 30, 2017 03:46PM ● By LANI KWON, MA

According to Consumer Reports’ Holiday Shopping Poll, each year “the average American expects to spend about 42 hours buying, wrapping and returning gifts, as well as partying and traveling to visit family and friends.” Often these extra activities get squeezed into already-busy schedules during a time when we have the least energy to devote to them. This is a perfect recipe for holiday stress.

This form of seasonal stress can manifest itself in many ways. Mental Health America asked more than 3,000 people what anxieties they feel at this time of year. The results showed that finances, missing a lost loved one and having too much to do were the top holiday stressors. Some of these factors are things we can’t control. However, there are a variety of commitments we can take into consideration ahead of time and modify to reduce our holiday stress.

How to Enjoy a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Choose three or four of the following tips to make this year’s holidays brighter:

  • Don’t try to be Martha Stewart! Often what really stresses people out is trying to achieve the impossible in too little time. Manage your expectations.
  • Schedule some downtime between Thanksgiving and the winter “holidaze” chaos. Try to get more sleep or rest between seasonal appointments and events.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits: exercise, good nutrition and sleep. Be careful of overeating and drinking too much alcohol, which can have an impact on mood.
  • Plan ahead and get some tasks done before the holidays arrive. For example, set aside gifts, cards and wrapping paper and ribbons in a drawer or other special location, so that things are easy to wrap and send.
  • Acknowledge your feelings, and don’t “should” on yourself. In other words, create the holiday you want by being selective about obligations and/or creating new traditions to replace outdated, time-consuming, unfulfilling ones.
  • Reach out for support and involve your kids and other family members and friends. Maybe host just one or two potlucks or gift-making parties instead of going to several more demanding and complicated events.
  • Be realistic and learn to say “No.”
  • Set aside differences, postpone family feuds and make it clear ahead of time that certain controversial topics will not be discussed during the holidays.
  • Have compassion for yourself and others. Everyone is stretched extra thin during this time.
  • Beware of shopping pitfalls: time, money and crowds. Go to stores when fewer people are likely to be there or avoid them altogether and shop online or give gift cards or offer to make nonprofit charity gift donations in your friends’ or family members’ names.
  • Get creative in your gift giving. It really is the thought that counts. Make your gifts or give coupons to friends and family for services you can offer during the year.
  • Seek professional help, if you need it, by talking with a therapist, clergy member or life coach about your fears, concerns and/or anxiety or depression.
  • Express more gratitude. Multiple studies have shown that stress levels decrease as our positive thoughts increase.
  • Explore practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi, running, hiking or prayer to reduce stress.
  • And finally, focus on the present and not the presents. Participate in activities you enjoy. Spend time with people whom you cherish and who cherish you. Enjoy your time and savor each moment!

​Lani Kwon, MA, founder of Creating YOUR Calling LLC, provides clients with step-by-step tools and resources for life redesign. She has more than two decades of experience in crisis counseling, teaching, public speaking and writing. Lani is also the author of The Creating CoPOWERment Workbook, which provides readers with the ability to discover what they want, what’s standing in the way and how to remove obstacles to make it happen. She is currently working on Creating YOUR Calling: How to Discover Your Authentic Life Mission, due to be published in 2018, and offers workshops and presentations to corporations and nonprofit groups.

Lani will be offering a workshop on How to Enjoy a Stress-Free Holiday Season (aka Putting the Merry, Joyous and Happy Back into Your Holidays) at Quantum Institute International for Holistic Health, 931 University Ave., Ste. 208, Honolulu, on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 11:11 a.m. to 1:11 p.m. Cost is $30 and includes all materials. For more information, call 808-594-7950 or email [email protected].

 

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