Feeling Stressed? My 5 Tips for Beating the Overwhelm
The Christmas season is meant to be a time of reflection and celebration,
but even with the best intentions, it’s so easy to get sucked into the commercialism and stress.
Here are a few tips on how to keep that overwhelm and stress at bay:
1. Organize Your Thoughts
The first thing I do when I feel overwhelmed is sit down with a piece of paper (sometimes it’s the back of my son’s homework!) and write down everything on my mind. Not categorized or in any kind of order, just a “Brain Dump”.
Once I see it all in front of me, I can then divide it in 4 different categories: Work, Home, Projects and NMW (No Matter What’s). Then I can look at my calendar and decide what needs to take priority and what can wait. Since it’s written out, I can cross things off as I go (I love that feeling!) and add to it if needed but I know I won’t fret or forget now that it’s on paper and out of my head! If I’m feeling especially organized, I’ll rewrite it on my stainless steel fridge with a dry erase marker, or on my dry erase boards in my office.
I also recommend considering if anything can be delegated to someone else, even your kids! Kids love to be involved in what we are doing, and I’ve learned that I’d rather have together time with them and something turn out less than perfect then to have one extra thing to do myself just to have it exactly the way I think I need it. #letitgo
I also recommend keeping a journal, if not all the time, maybe just this time of year. It helps to write in your journal to help you get organized and remember what the holidays are really about.
2. Choose Your Mood
That’s right! There are very few things in life we really have control over, and one of them is our attitude. Here’s an idea I got from Isabelle Daikeler: “Think to yourself, “What will be my state of ‘being’ while I’m doing all of these things? Will I be joyful or stressed, grateful or overwhelmed?” And, write a paragraph on this topic. Asking these questions is really important if you want the holidays to be something you actually enjoy. The busyness of the holidays doesn’t have to cause stress if you choose a calm and joyful way of being as you check off tasks from your to-do list.”So whether you’re cooking for a large crowd or shopping for gifts for relatives – you can choose whether or not you will find peace and joy in it. Writing out your feelings might help you get over the angst you initially feel.”
Isabelle also suggests you make columns on a piece of paper, marking one with the names of the people you are buying gifts for and a second column for what you are grateful for about this person. Leave out all the things they have or haven’t done, or what they’ve said or didn’t say – all of that ultimately doesn’t mean anything. Instead, write how they contribute positively to your life. Then take this list with you shopping so that the present you purchase is an expression of your appreciation for them.
3. Keep Things in Perspective
Rather than truly celebrating family and friends, we often get caught up in how things “look.” We worry about Christmas cards, or whether our hair and outfits look alright, or if we made enough pies for everyone! When you start to spiral into worry, go back to your shopping list of names and why you’re grateful for these people – does it really matter if your hair looks perfect that day?
I’m not saying to show up to your holiday events in your pajamas, but by choosing what you focus on, you can allow whether a certain situation will create stress or joy. Are you going to focus on whether your outfit looks perfect or focus on the joy you experience with your cousin who you haven’t seen in a while? You have a choice. Consciously choosing gratitude and joy will create positive situations and bring you closer to those you love.And, this time of year gives you great practice so you can easily apply it throughout the year when there are less distractions.
4. Learn to Say “No”
If you have always lived the holidays with a lot of stress, but have not done anything about it, then nothing will change because at the end of the day nothing and nobody makes you feel in any way other than how you choose to feel.
If spending quality time with your husband and children during the holidays is important to you, then make the time. Be more organized about the shopping, start way ahead as opposed to waiting to the last minute. Choose the events that you want to attend, and say “no” to the rest. Be empowered in what you are deciding to celebrate this year. Celebrate by having the courage to eliminate that which is not important to you. This allows opportunity for what does bring you joy. For example, if you’re not spending days in the kitchen preparing a meal for 50 people, you’ll have more time to play games with your kids.
Try it and do your best not to feel obligated. Remember, everybody is caught in the whirlwind of the holidays! We are all doing the best we can, so it’s nobody’s fault. But, you are in charge of what this holiday season could be for you and your family.
5. Take Time for Yourself
I say this all of the time! It’s not selfish to have self care. Obviously, there are varying degrees of what is really necessary, and I’m not saying your attitude should be “me first”. I’m talking to the majority of you who are like me, and tend to put others before yourself almost 100% of the time. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure you’re doing something for you like take a walk outside, get your workout in, find a quiet place (maybe that has to be away from home, like at a coffeeshop!) to read or meet a friend. Or even a nice, long bath. This will help you have more energy for others, I promise.
Some of this article is derived from Isabelle’s blog here.