Holiday time can definitely bring on the stress. There is shopping, pressure to buy the “perfect” gift for family and friends. We try to create the “perfect” experiences and meals. We spend time with family we might not see often (perhaps on purpose?). We spend time with our kids – lots of time – when they don’t have school or activities. There can be extreme cold weather that limits time outdoors and keeps us in each other’s space.

For some, these are treasured moments. And for some these moments can get tough. We put pressure on ourselves during the holidays in different ways. Funny enough, even really happy moments can bring on stress. On this blog, we’ve previously written about removing the pressure and taking things down a notch. Let’s say, though, that you’ve gotten to a point where the holidays are causing stress and you need some quick ways to get the positive vibe going again.

I’m not an expert in the field of psychology and I don’t live stress-free, but I do facilitate workshops on self-care and stress management is a component of that. And I’ve done some public speaking on stress management.

Here are some tips and tricks to help with that holiday stress that might creep up on you, although there are many more out there:

    • Breathe. Take a breath – a deep breath. Let it out and then take another one. Really, I’m not joking. Breathing can really help.
    • Laugh. Is there a video on YouTube that always makes you giggle, or even better, belly laugh? Mark it as a favorite on your computer or phone. Is there something your significant does that you can’t help but laugh at? Let him or her know and give the cue when you need to see/hear/experience whatever it is.
    • Use relaxation exercises. That can be breathing exercises or meditation. There are some good meditations you can find online from 2 minutes to an hour. There are even apps. I’ve even seen one that has you watch a beautiful scene with water moving and snow covered mountains in the background for several minutes. So soothing to hear the sounds of water and nature and see the amazing scenery. Just Google to see what’s out there that you personally might find relaxing.
    • Read a book. During my previous research for a presentation, I learned that reading for just 6 minutes can lower your heartrate. As a busy mom, I can’t always find an hour to read, but I can escape to read for 5 to 10 minutes.
    • Get moving. Exercise.   Better yet, exercise outside since being outside can help with relaxation. Get that blood pumping.
    • Listen to music you love. Do you have that song that just makes you smile or maybe even DANCE? Maybe your favorite karaoke song? Crank it up in the house or in the car and just sing to your heart’s content. It might even make other drivers smile as an added bonus.
    • Take one positive action. Sometimes when we’re stressed, everything takes a negative turn and it all spirals. If you can get the momentum going the other way with one positive moment, no matter how small, it can turn things around.
    • Be present. Try to focus on right here, right now. These next few minutes. Only this activity. When you think of ALL the things that you have to do, it can be overwhelming. Think about right now. You’ll get to the other things. And, when you’re really present, your kids, in particular do notice.

I do want to add that these solutions are not for you or someone you know in a state of depression, a serious issue that a medical professional needs to help with.

All of these aren’t going to work for everyone, but a few could work for you in a tough moment or on a hard day during the holidays. Even with the stress of the holiday, there are ways to quickly turn things around.

Do you have some quick stress relievers that help that you can share?


PS In case you’re wondering the photo is of Quepos Beach in Costa Rica in September 2009.