Stress Less for the Holidays

“Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another!”

 

Have you ever noticed that the Holidays are not always a time of relaxation?  That sometimes we over-commit ourselves, that we create unrealistic expectations about how things are going to look or just push ourselves too hard?

I used to end up exhausted and almost depressed after a holiday.  All that went into creating the “perfect” meal, planning, cooking & setting up, seemed to drain me to the point of not wanting to do anything the days following other than sit & read or watch TV.  I know what happened to me, and it’s been a process of overcoming and dealing with it over the years, and now I am at the point where I can actually enjoy my time.

Here’s what I did – I created an image in my mind about how I thought the meal was going to look.  Sometimes even going far enough to contemplate the conversations we would have, the games we would play, the movies we would watch and so on.  As you can imagine, especially when you have a large group of people to have something so orchestrated is impossible – which would leave me frustrated and feeling down.  It’s not something that I did consciously but I had some thoughts and memories from my childhood and beyond that I wanted to recreate.  The problem with that is that my brain was making those memories look far more amazing than they probably were, and certainly more amazing than it was going to be possible for me to force people to recreate.

Do you ever find yourself trying to control things to the point of creating such unrealistic expectations that no matter what happens because it doesn’t look exactly right, you feel defeated because it’s not perfect?  Saying this out loud and writing it today makes me even more aware how ridiculous it is to do this, but that doesn’t mean that while it was happening it didn’t feel 100% real.

I have used various techniques to put me in touch with my body and what I am feeling, and some work better than others.  I wanted to share one with you today that I have found works pretty well for me:

Name your feelings

Close your eyes.  Let your mind wander into the different parts of your body and check in to see how it feels right now.  What thoughts are going on in your head?  Observe, don’t analyze.  When you are connected to how your body feels, ask yourself:  what is this feeling called?
Observe the feeling in peace and name it.  You can also ask yourself if there is something causing that feeling.
By recognizing and naming your feelings you will start to feel ease from the lump of stress you might have had in your body.  

According to the Mayo clinic, stress is the Number one cause of cancer in the US today – and if we subject ourselves to levels of stress during times when things are meant to be spent appreciating what we’re grateful for, then it kind of defeats the purpose.

I am planning on making a lovely meal for my family, spending time and doing “whatever we feel like” rather than trying to control the entire weekend.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  What do you have planned?

 

 

 

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