The holiday season is upon us and for many of us, that means that it is time to get BUSY. There is holiday baking, shopping, decorating, wrapping and crafting to do. Not to mention the normal chores that need to be done like laundry, grocery shopping and dusting. Throw in a few office parties, kid’s holiday programs and cookie exchanges and before you know it, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas can turn into one big, tinsel-tangled ball of chaos and exhaustion.
1.) Do Nothing: That’s right. Do NOTHING. Rather than feeling as though you have to cram every minute of every day full of activity, try taking fifteen minutes to quiet your thoughts, calm your breathing and indulge in a few minutes of stillness. Bringing just a few minutes of peace to each day will help to decrease your stress level, provide greater clarity and increase your energy. Sure, your to-do list will still be waiting for you after your fifteen minute break is over, but taking a little time to be still and connect with your spirit will enable you to return to your to-do list more consciously and with greater ease and grace.
5.) Get up and Move: Grab your sneakers and take them for a walk around the block or around your office building. Try jump roping for three minutes without messing up. Give hula hooping a go. It doesn’t matter what kind of activity you engage in, it just matters that you get up and get moving. By adding mini bursts of activity to your day, you are not only helping to take care of your heart, you are also releasing endorphins into your system for a feel good effect that will last long after your activity has ceased.
6.) Fix Something: Is there a lightbulb that needs to be changed or a loose latch on the window that is driving you crazy? Is your computer acting up or is your car’s tire pressure too low? Rather than letting these annoyances continue to take up space in your mind, utilize fifteen minutes of time to address the issues and get them fixed. If you’re handy, grab a screwdriver and tighten the screw on that window latch or replace that pesky lightbulb. If you don’t know how to fix the problem (computer issues for example), use the time to call someone who does and get an appointment scheduled. These small annoyances might not seem like much, but it is ridiculous how much they can wear on us–especially when we are already stressed or on edge. By taking the initiative and a few quick minutes to get these small problems fixed, you will no longer be distracted by them and will be able to focus your full attention on things that truly matter.
7.) Boost Your Mood: While all of these suggestions are meant to help uplift you and create a bit of calm in a season of chaos, this particular tip is about being more conscious in your efforts to boost your mood. The first step is to take a few minutes to connect with your emotions and assess where they are on a scale of Mr. Grinch to Buddy the Elf (hopefully you’ve seen the movie Elf, if not, GO RENT IT. Seriously, Will Farrell is hilarious!) If you find that your mood is a bit down in the dumps, ask yourself what specifically is making you feel this way. Maybe you’re feeling sleep deprived or perhaps you’re feeling unloved due to a spat with your honey. Once you’ve determined the root cause for your moodiness, look at the facts of the situation objectively and pinpoint any areas where you are adding more emotion than is called for. For example, could it be that your honey loves you very much but just happened to be a bit sleep deprived himself and therefore a tad grouchy? Once you’ve looked at the scenario objectively, take a few deep breaths, turn on some upbeat music, get a little bit of sunshine (yes, sunny days are a bit more scarce during the winter months but they do exist), inhale some wild orange or lemon essential oils and consciously make the effort to lift your mood. No matter what the circumstances, we always have the ability to determine our response and our attitude about it–you absolutely can gain control over your moods if you consciously choose to do so.
8.) Turn Your Bah Humbug into a Ho Ho Ho: There is a reason that people say “laughter is the best medicine”. Laughter can reduce stress in practically every human organ, boost our immune system and fight viruses. Put the protective power of laughter to work for you this holiday season by taking fifteen minutes to indulge in funny cat videos, knock-knock jokes or whatever it is that tickles your funny bone. A little laughter can do wonders to make any stressful situation more bearable.
9.) Practice Acupressure: The fleshy place between your index (pointer) finger and your thumb is called the hoku spot in traditional Chinese medicine. Applying firm pressure there for just 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body. This easy acupressure point is good to remember if you start to feel overwhelmed by the holiday chaos; simply give your hand a squeeze and take a deep breath.
10.) Make a Plan: With the rush of the holiday season, we can find ourselves coming and going at a frantic pace. This exasperation becomes even more heightened when we arrive at a holiday party only to discover that we’ve left our hostess gift at home on the kitchen counter or we show up at our son’s music program thirty minutes late and miss his trombone solo. Minimize these incidents by taking a quick fifteen minutes to do some planning. Take a look at your week’s schedule and make a list of the things that you need to have ready for each appointment. If there are things that you need to purchase, make a note. If you need to RSVP, make a call. Spending a few extra minutes to go over your schedule and to-do list now can save you a lot of embarrassment and headache later.