Avoiding Stress During the Holidays

We have some great gift ideas that will be purchasable through the end of the week and in time for your holiday celebrations, so check back for those in the days ahead. But, first, we asked lifecoach Marybeth Cale to weigh in and shed some light on avoiding holiday stress to help us devise our strategy for a happy holiday! 

'Tis the season to be jolly….right?

by Marybeth Cale, life coach and speaker

As we search for the perfect sweater for Uncle so-and-so, which will likely be re-gifted not long after we have emptied our bank accounts to pay for that and other unnecessary gifts, many of us are also frantically putting together end-of-year work reports, lining up sitters for the not-to-be-missed client parties and unsuccessfully trying to carve out time to bake hundreds of cookies. No doubt the highly anticipated merriment can easily be trumped by stress during the holiday season, despite our best efforts.

So, how do we resurrect that childlike wonder we once knew?

I truly believe it is possible to get the twinkle back in your eyes. Here are a few tips that might help:

1.     Bring back the to-do list. Yes, I realize that most of you are hopelessly devoted to your technology – but how about the good old-fashioned paper and pen for this purpose? I am a huge fan of list-making. Not only does it keep me organized, but it prevents me from feeling overwhelmed, because everything gets laid out neatly.

For example, I went into the weekend with many responsibilities whirling through my head: Christmas shopping, Christmas card-writing, two client projects that were on deadline, three parties and cookie-making. When I thought about all of it as a collective group, my chest got tight.

Enter my spiral notebook – losing it would be my demise, but holding it in my hands makes everything right with the world. I decided that a few of the aforementioned tasks could be done during the week, and that I really only needed to attend the parties and get the cards out over the weekend. I wrote it out, designating time for the parties and time for the cards over the weekend, and then listing Monday-Friday with some of the other tasks built into each day. All of the sudden it didn’t seem so overwhelming anymore – I gave everything the time it deserved, but I spread it out, organized my time and suddenly it all seemed so incredibly doable!

Not only was I able to breathe again, but I enjoyed the parties – and the card-writing – and embraced each moment. Lists allow me to focus on one thing at a time, knowing that I have developed a strategy to make time for everything – lists empower, and it feels GREAT to cross things off as I get them done!

2.     Make the time for exercise and self-care. Here in upstate New York, the temps are dropping and the early-morning walks are not quite as appealing as they were in August. However, moving the body is critically important to feeling alive, energetic and ready to be productive. Join the gym, a pilates or yoga studio, or your local tennis club. Give yourself the gift of a workout – even just three times each week. Build it into your calendar and don’t let anything else get in the way of doing it. Even when we most dread putting on the workout clothes and getting out there, most of us can agree with some level of certainty that we always feel better afterwards.

Exercise is your gift to yourself. You deserve to feel amazing; make this a top priority. If you need motivation, get a friend involved. But stick to it to release stress and stay on top of your game. If you take care of yourself, everything else is easier to manage.

3.     Take a day off.  From everything. That’s right – mark a day on the calendar that is a true day off. Unplug the cell, the laptop, the Ipad, the phone and whatever other devices I am neglecting to mention. Make no plans for that day, except to wake up and allow yourself to do whatever it is you feel like doing. NO AGENDA.

If you wake up that day and feel like listening to your favorite holiday playlist and cleaning the house, great. Perhaps you will awaken with a strong desire for a day at the slopes – that is awesome too. Or maybe you just want to walk through your village and do some shopping, then grab lunch with your best friend. You might find yourself ready for a movie marathon with a big cup of hot cocoa. Whatever the case may be, it should be a day that frees you to listen to your mind, body and spirit and follow suit. It’s a lesson in being present, and you’ll want to do it monthly after you have tried it on for size, trust me!

In the Hudson Valley, we get the gift of a snow day here and there (and sometimes more) throughout the winter months. Those days are such a treat – everything is canceled and the world kind of stops for a moment, allowing us to listen to our hearts and follow the rhythms of the day. It’s a beautiful thing. But we shouldn’t wait for snow to renew ourselves in that way – we just need to take a simple day off once in awhile.

So, dear friends, it’s up to you. Make the season as magical as it was when you were a small child. There is absolutely no reason not to. We can choose stress, or we can choose happy. These tips are really about living in each moment, which is what kids do all year long - and if we want to live with the joy and wonder that they so naturally share with the world, we can do so by choosing happy this holiday season.

Marybeth Cale coaches for success, purpose and satisfaction in business, life and love. Communications, relationship and professional coaching available to individuals and groups. Call 845 876 2220 or visit marybethcale.com to learn more.