It's the most wonderful time of the year! Starbucks has their red cups filled with yummy flavors like pumpkin spice, caramel brulee, and numerous others that tug at the waistline! Black Friday sales, department store discounts, online slashed prices, holiday dinners, drinks to celebrate, family visits, and religious celebrations.
Whichever experience seems more like yours, we all feel slightly out of sorts during this time, as our normal routines go into overdrive. How we manage our emotions can make or break a simple event like lunch at your in-laws.
Here are a few tips and tricks on keeping cool and enjoying the festivities.
Breathe! Yes, you already do that, but certain types of breathing can help to regulate and balance your nervous system. Try this: take a deep breath from the diaphragm (when your stomach goes out and in), count to 2 or 5, then exhale via the mouth. Repeat 5 to 10 times -depending on how much help is needed to break bread with your lovely in-law and get on with the show.
Take a "phone call." What's that you say.. How can a phone call help? That's because it's not a real phone call; it's time granted. A well-mannered approach to excusing yourself allows you to go into another quiet room or, better still, outside into fresh air to give yourself a five-minute break. Do your breathing, look around, and pat yourself on the back for hanging in!
Take an actual look around! This technique is what some may refer to as mindfulness. But we will keep it simple and describe it as looking around you. Notice your cousin's hair color, the texture of the living room furniture, the specific laughter of Uncle Dave, the taste of that yummy holiday sweet, how you feel sitting/standing right where you are and ask yourself, "What will I remember most about this day?'
Hmmm a tune! Quietly or not, humming activates the vagus nerve and has such a calming effect it can move a person out of fight/flight mode to a relaxing mode. Feeling wedged in by Aunt Sally and her overly friendly dog, Cookie, start your humming engine and sail away to your calm place!
Hug someone! Sounds silly, but it works! When you give or receive a hug, your cortisol levels decrease, reducing your stress response, as well as your blood pressure and heart rate! Better still, when you hug for 20 seconds, it releases one of our feel-good hormones, Oxytocin (a hormone that creates a sense of bond and connection with others). So go on, give grandma a big ole hug! You both deserve it!
Say NO to your time! Do a weekly check-in with your mind, body, time, wallet, feelings, and overall well-being. And if they are in unison with a request to stay in, do it. Forcing yourself to attend every invite can quickly turn the happy holidays into a grump fest. Be smart about your time. Enjoy a night in, put your feet up in comfy socks, sip a cup of hot cocoa, and turn on Netflix.
Say thanks! Gratitude works. Make a list of the top 10 best moments in your life! Reflecting on the things that have gone right in your life can motivate you to acknowledge the good things in your present. Right in time for the holiday cheer!
Take one or two days out of the week to exercise however you like! Stretch, walk, sway, dance, skip, whatever! As long as you remind your body, it is important and that it has your loving attention.
In the movie, A Christmas Story, nine-year-old Ralphie is on a quest to get an Official Red Ryder BB Gun as a Christmas gift. Only repeatedly told, "You'll shoot your eye out."
This holiday season, don't shoot your emotions out; play it safe!
For more tips, please check out our other tips here https://www.plantationcounseling.com/blog. You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.