Reduce Your Holiday Stress

December 05, 2011

The holiday season generally puts increased demands on everyone. How do you have less stress and more fun during the holidays? Here are 8 ways to reduce your stress this holiday season.

1. Make the holidays about presence not presents. Avoid getting caught in the message that expensive gifts are a sign of love. Remember, your undivided attention and caring presence is your greatest gift to your loved ones. Create a memorable holiday by spending time with the people you care about. Never underestimate or diminish the lasting gift of your heart’s love.

2. Define what is important to you this holiday season. Unrealistic and high expectations promoted by advertisers can undermine the possibilities for happiness during the holidays. Your relationships, parties, dinners and gifts may never measure up to the perfection portrayed by the media. So, be realistic and make your holidays uniquely your own. Identify what you truly value during the holidays and create a celebration around what matters most to you. Avoid judging your holiday based on a magazine image.

3. Take care of yourself one day at a time. Drink plenty of water. Start a holiday tradition of walking with a friend or family member or participate in some other form of regular exercise. Deep breathe during your day and especially when you feel rushed or stressed. Listen to relaxing music. Avoid overdoing the sweets and alcohol. Keep healthy snacks, like fruit or nuts, nearby.

4. Rest in order to enjoy. If you are going shopping or attending holiday events that you know will tire you, make time for a nap or get to bed a little early. If you are doing added cooking and cleaning, remember to take extra time to rest and relax. If you are tired, you are not going to enjoy even pleasurable activities.

5. Pace yourself and delegate whenever possible. Make a conscious choice about the number of and which holiday activities you want to participate in. Trying to “do it all” can be exhausting. Be willing to say “no” and also share the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and added responsibilities with others whenever you can. Remember less can be more!

6. Norman Rockwell moments mostly happen in paintings. The vast majority of families are not like a Rockwell painting. Many families live with personal conflicts, disappointments, unresolved grievances and losses that can become painfully amplified during the holidays. Our invitation is to love the mess and or at least accept that life will never perfect. Set aside differences and grievances for another time. Make the effort to see the good in everyone and find compassion for those who may be suffering.

7. Feel what you feel. There is an overwhelming emphasis on having “happy” holidays. Yet during the holidays it is normal to feel sadness or grief, especially if you have lost a loved one or have difficult family circumstances. Be especially kind to yourself and accept your feelings. Avoid expecting yourself to “feel happy” when you feel sad. Seek out the support and comfort of family, a friend or a professional if needed.

8. Enjoy the journey. So often people put all of their attention on one day or one event and miss the little things that happen along the way that can contribute to happiness. We can set ourselves up for a big disappointment if the event does not go as we planned. Enjoy and appreciate the ordinary and special in each day. There is no gift like the present. Remember, life happens in the present moment and we have only the present moment to experience life and share our love.

Topics: Wellness


Hi. I attended the mindful meditation today at the free and I liked the poem you read today. My friend and I usually attend together and since she could not come I would like to give her the poem. Can you tell me the title please? I really appreciate your time teaching us to be mindful. Thank you. One more question...I am a teacher and I take continuing education. Have you ever had teachers take your workshops and received continuing Ed for their attendance? Again, thank you. Robin Reents
Dear Robin, The poem is “Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle” by Alison Luterman. Carolyn Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle Alison Luterman Try to love everything that gets in your way: the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane while you execute thirty-six furious laps, one for every item on your to-do list. The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side, whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course. Teachers all. Learn to be small and swim through obstacles like a minnow without grudges or memory. Dart toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking Obstacle is another obstacle. Try to love the teenage girl idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo: Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine, in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep. Be glad she’ll have that to look at all her life, and keep going, keep going. Swim by an uncle in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew how to hold his breath underwater, even though kids aren’t allowed at this hour. Someday, years from now, this boy who is kicking and flailing in the exact place you want to touch and turn will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat raising his champagne glass in a toast when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard. He'll come up coughing and spitting like he is now, but he'll come up like a cork, alive. So your moment of impatience must bow in service to a larger story, because if something is in your way it is going your way, the way of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.
I attended your mindfulness session at the Frye yesterday. You read a beautiful poem that I would like to copy to repeat to myself. I can not find the topic on your website where I might retrieve it. Can you help? thank you for being there and sharing your insights. sincerely Marilyn

The poem I read was. The Guest House. It is at my website:

Here it is:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks