Three Tips For Handling Holiday Stress


By Judy Brennan

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - or is it?

Holidays are supposed to be a time to gather family together to connect and enjoy each other’s company, but they can also be very stressful. It was only up until three years ago, I was able to host the family holiday meal calmly and with grace. It has taken me many years of practicing the tools I have learned as a Health and Wellness Educator, to truly be happy and live a more meaningful life, even throughout stressful times.

Here are three of my favorite tools, I use on a daily basis to help relieve stress and to navigate positively through the
1. A technique called STOP
S: Stop. Stop whatever you are doing.
T: Take three deep breaths. Take a few deep, belly-filling breaths with long inhales and exhales.
O: Observe. Tune into your physical sensations, surroundings, and emotions. Notice what you see, hear, feel,
and taste.
Label your emotions (without judging them) and identify your thoughts.
P: Proceed. Then carry on with more awareness (and I like to add with kindness and gratitude).
2. Live more in the moment
According to Psychology today, living in the moment makes people happier because most negative thoughts concern the past or the future.
As Mark Twain said, "I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."
The hallmark of depression and anxiety is worrying about something that hasn't happened yet and might not happen at all. Worry, by its very nature, means thinking about the future—and if you hoist yourself into awareness of the present moment, worrying melts away.
The flip side of worrying is ruminating, thinking bleakly about events in the past.
And again, if you press your focus into the now, rumination ceases.
Try practice being in the moment while driving, shopping, or talking with loved ones and notice how much more effective meaningful your moment will be. To me, this quote sums up living in the moment beautifully, "Forget yesterday - it has already forgotten you. Don't sweat tomorrow - you haven't even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift - today.”
3. Lift the corners of your mouth
Yes, smile! You would be surprised how just putting a smile on your face can change not only how you feel but how those around you feel too. Make it a game and see how many people you can encourage to smile by sharing your own. I once tried this technique at a grocery store in my neighborhood and a woman on the receiving end came up and hugged me!

So, give it a try - STOP and take a breath, live more in the moment, and smile!
Wishing you peace and love during this holiday season,
Judy Brennan