Simple stress buster for the festive season
So many factors play a part in how this time of year plays out for us, and with the build up and anticipation and expectations (real or perceived), we can start to feel stressed way before the holidays even come around.
It’s a time when we often live in the future – What happens if…? When I do X, what will Y think?
Sometimes we miss out on the enjoyment of it all because we’re always looking towards the next date/time when we have to be somewhere or do something.
This year in particular, we’re layering the annual festive stress on top of what has already been an exhausting year. Everyone has been affected, and in many different ways. And much of this is out of our control.
So….the question is, what can we do about it?
What can we do to avoid feeling like a broken gingerbread (wo)man?!
Gratitude. A small word which can have a big impact in bringing physical and mental stress relief.
We’ve been discussing Gratitude quite a bit in the Ditch the Diet groups recently.
The focus last week was body appreciation and being grateful for our amazing bodies. This week we talked about using gratitude for stress management.
Side Note: Now, before you switch off and tab to another page – practicing gratitude isn’t an airy-fairy approach to life. It’s about rewiring our brains and changing the stories we tell ourselves. I have to admit, it has taken me a while to get my head around. But…by starting to raise my own awareness of the impact of gratitude and affirmations – by trusting the process even though I didn’t feel it was ‘my’ thing – I have come to see the impact this has on me and my clients. I still don’t have a formal way of practicing these things daily, my way is to weave them into my life. And I invite you to do the same. There is no right/wrong way. It’s simply the way that works for you.
So, how do you get started?
Step 1: Take yourself into a place of gratitude
To start, I encourage you to make a conscious effort to pause and consider everything that is going well, and if possible try to relate these thoughts to the area that is causing a lot of stress. You can simply write these down, say them out loud, pin them on your notice board or stick to the fridge.
Example a) If I am worrying about keeping on top of all the kids’ activities and school events, my gratitude may look like this:
I am grateful that my children lead such full and vibrant lives
I am grateful the school is so invested in my children and has enabled them to have a fun end of the year
Example b) If I am worrying about whether I will eat all the chocolates and other ‘naughty’ food at a social event, my gratitude may look like this:
I am grateful that food is in such abundance that I can choose freely how and when to nourish my body
I am grateful for a body that tells me how it feels and what it needs
Step 2: Take action to move yourself forward
Once you’re in a place of gratitude, you can think about strategies that will help you work through the stress and worry.
I’m all about practical small steps. No crazy and overwhelming plan to completely overhaul your life here. This is about one step that you can take today.
These things may look really simple – and that’s because they are!
But sometime in the madness of life we forget to pause and get back to basics.
Example a) you might grab a whiteboard and get all the key activities and reminders down for the next week – when Child A has final assembly, when you need to take a secret santa pressie into the office and so on. The act of writing it all down and having a plan you can refer to, can be a great worry reliever.
Example b) you may try to consciously focus on something other than food at the party such as the great conversations you’ll have, or the music. Or it may be to have a satisfying and nourishing meal before you go to the event. Of course, you may still enjoy the nibbles and the wine, but the idea is to move away from the food as a focal point and as a source of worry in the lead up to the event.
Practicing gratitude doesn’t need to be a big commitment or take up too much time. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and - most importantly - the greater the impact.
My Ditch the Diet programme focuses on how to live a healthful life without the guilt and frustration, and gratitude is just one of the ways we start to reframe health and start to ditch the diet mentality that has plagued many of us for so long.
For more information about when the next Ditch the Diet group starts, please click here.