Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

Anxious-WomanThe holidays are here and for many of us it is a time of celebration and stress. For example, the holidays bring up memories of my deceased parents who I miss dearly.  They loved the holidays and provided me with my first tastes of Christmas magic. My mother lived a long, full life and passed away suddenly the week before Christmas.

Many share bittersweet experiences and stress at the holidays.  Perhaps your family is still intact, but your relationship with them is less that you would like.  At the holidays, we often nostalgically remember the good times in the past and regret the situation as it is today.  For others, holidays remind us of economic uncertainties.  Job security and unemployment are issues that haunt many.  For those trying to lose weight or battling an addiction, the holidays can present an especially challenging time.  For others, the winter climate in the Northeast can throw us off center.  As the daylight hours shorten, seasonal affective disorder brings on moods of sadness.

A few tips to lighten the holidays

  • First, take stock of the situation. What is in your control and what is not?
  • If you get depressed in the cold cloudy days of winter, you can’t change the weather however you could buy a “light box”. Light therapy can help.
  • If you’re concerned about your weight or addictions ramping up over the holidays, find a support group or friend with whom you can discuss your concerns.
  • Enroll in a cooking class and learn how to make tasty healthy treats vs. high calorie low nutrient fare.
  • As for the family, having realistic expectations of their behavior always helps to keep us grounded during reunions.

Most importantly, practice self-care.  If possible, spend some time outdoors – in the sunlight would be ideal.  Go for walks, exercise, meditate, eat nutrient dense food, and meet with people who bring joy to your life.  Laughter is great medicine anytime of the year. And take a few conscious breaths when you are feeling overwhelmed.  Finally, there is nothing more important for our health than regular periods of rest.  Do not short change sleep in order to do more.

I teach a mental technique that will be help – Effortless Meditation™. Meditation practice will do wonders to ward off stress and lighten your spirits at any time of the year.  It brings balance into your life.

Greg Schweitzer Director, Stress Reduction Resources Meditation teacher, Wellness coach, Speaker

Do You Yearn for Peace?

Anxious-WomanThe world community was shattered again, in a big way, by tragic acts of violence in Europe and around the globe. Fear and sadness abounds and the voice inside us wants to understand.  We yearn for peace. 

Yesterday, I listened to analysts talking about terrorist groups and some of the ways in which they become radicalized. There’s a lot of understanding about the making of a terrorist.  What’s missing is creative solutions to grow peace.

Being the Solution

Did you know that there’s a statement in the UN Charter that says war begins in the mind?

Under chronic pressure and stress, and who isn’t, the fight or flight response rules.  Fuzzy thinking and overwhelm dominate the lives of far too many.  As a coping strategy, we start labeling people familiar to us as US and others as THEM. We divide ourselves.  This divisive thinking is based in the ego’s quest for safety and the desire to be known. It’s the breeding ground of mistrust and hostility.

Without corrective action, we grow in frustration, anger, and resentment. Are we helping the cause of peace when we are holding these emotions and stress inside?  I think not. If you’re not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. Is this what you want for your life, for your world?

The good news is there is wisdom from ancient cultures that can help us. They’ve told us how to create peace and live a healthy life. The key is to quiet the mind.  A quiet or still mind does not see differences, it just sees what is. It doesn’t judge itself or others.

Us vs. Them thinking drops away when the mind is still, quiet. There is nothing to fear.  Fortunately today, there’s a growing understanding of the need for bringing peace to our turbulent minds.

The other day I was reading about one such initiative, the work of the David Lynch Foundation.  They have funded the teaching of children in at-risk schools the practice of Transcendental Meditation®. The daily meditation periods are referred to as “quiet time.” Over a couple years, the schools implementing the quiet time programs are transformed. Kids excel and the school environment blossoms.  Both parents and administrators are thrilled with the impact of quiet time in the school day.

Make a practice of quieting your mind and you’ll experience your relationships becoming more harmonious. The practice of quieting the mind cultures more tender qualities of the heart. With a quiet mind, we become better listeners, more attentive and receptive. And a quiet mind brings peace to the body, manifesting as better physical health. Bring enough minds to silence and over time, our outer environments transform as is happening in schools, prisons and other environments implementing meditation quiet time programs. There is an antidote for hostility and stress and it’s easy to implement.

Steps to take now

Peace also begins in the mind, and it starts with each one of us. Here’s several things you can do to create a peaceful world.

  • Spend some time each day quieting your mind. Use meditation, prayer, yoga, painting, just do something to quiet the mind. Try it; you have nothing to lose and much to gain.
  • During your day, look for similarities among people. We are far more similar than different.
  • Reach out and smile. It’s contagious.
  • At the end of each day, list four things that you were grateful for that day.

These may seem like small things but they are big.

Greg Schweitzer 

Director, Stress Reduction Resources