8 tips to Relieve Holiday Stress
Tip 1: Tickle your funny bone
Visualize your favorite humorous moments. (Perhaps one where you laughed so hard you fell down or peed your pants.) These can be real situations or can be situations seen on sitcoms or created from stories, jokes, cartoons, etc.
- When you laugh you contract and expand muscles which reduces physical stress.
- When you experience humor stress and distressing emotions (depression, anxiety, anger, guilt and resentment disappear)
- Humor adds perspective making the stress triggering events of life less potent.
- With laughter the stress hormone cortisol is reduced.
Tip 2: Prop-Position
Carry and use a playful prop. Each December, I wear a “No-L” pin which is a round pin with a red circle and a slash through it (visualize a No Smoking sign). In the middle with the red slash running through it is a green “L.” Hence, “No-L.” People love figuring out what it says and delight in the “getting it.”
1. Being playful reduces stress by counteracting it with pleasure. Being playful also serves as a distraction from the stress triggering event.
Tip 3: Comic Vision
Look to the humor around you. Each day look for a “funny” during your holiday adventures. There are many sources for holiday humor from funny signs to funny clothes to jokes stories, etc. Have your kids help by asking them to share funny things with you. Here are a few non-holiday related examples: A sign at a restaurant reads, “Children left unattended will be towed at the owner’s expense.” A sign on the freeway approaching San Diego once read, “Cruise Ships, Use Airport Exit.” Are there that many Cruise ships on the freeway? By looking for humor in everyday life you build resilience an inoculate yourself and are better equipped to manage “bad day” events. One of my bosses placed a sign on her door that read…” I may be disturbed, but I am friendly.”
- Finding humor shifts negative thinking which is the primary cause of stress.
Tip 4: Humor Yourself and Others
Bring humor into your life. Learn a set of simple holiday jokes and be prepared to share them at appropriate moments. Receive humor by watching comedians, sitcoms, improv, etc. Seek cartoons and share them with others.
During December I distribute a set of alternate titles for Holiday Songs. The task is to figure out the “real” title. Here is one example: “Quadruped with Crimson Proboscis.” I am sure you immediately recognized this as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” 😊
- The experience of humor dissolves stress.
Tip 5: Activate Perspective
Place life’s inconveniences (everyday events) in a large life perspective. Whatever “it” is tell yourself, “I will get through this. I have always survived every life challenge.”
- Place life’s “inconveniences” in perspective. Perspective is one of the most potent ways to reduce stress. Stress is often caused by an exaggerated negative view of oneself or the world. Perspective shifts that negative view.
Tip 6: Get in touch with what you “Want!!”
Ask yourself, “What do I want?” Even if you do not get it, you become clear on want you want and the clearer you become the more likely you are to achieve what you want. Also, realize that you may choose to do something you may not “want” to do such as attend a family function, but you are choosing to do so. Accepting that you are choosing an unpleasant “preference” is highly stress reducing.
- Achieving what you want is pleasurable, gratifying, and fulfilling and naturally counteracts stress. Even knowing what you want and not getting it in the moment can be stress reducing.
Tip 7: Stop Shoulding and Musterbating
Without ever having to change your behavior, replace your shoulds, musts, have to’s and oughts with wants, preferences, wishes, and desires. While you may not like some activity (e.g. your job, shopping, being in crowds, etc.), if you practice replacing shoulds with wants you will reduce your resentment and guilt often experienced during these activities. You might say “I want… or I prefer…” instead of “I must… I should… I have to…”
- Thinking in “demands” (shoulds, musts, ought to’s) is one of the core creators of stress. Change your thinking from this depowering/demand thinking to empowering/want thinking and your stress will mostly dissolve.
Tip 8: Embrace Gratitude
Everyday focus on 3 things for which you are grateful. You can say them to yourself write them down (perhaps in a journal) or represent them symbolically perhaps with buttons, marbles, paperclips, etc.
- Research has consistently found that when we are grateful our stress level is reduced.