More Joy, Less Stress this Holiday Season h, the joyful holiday season: the lights, the decorations, the parties, the guests, the shopping, the cleaning, the STRESS! While holiday season activities can make for great memories, they can also cause a lot of stress. Here are some tips to help you stay calm and enjoy the holiday season more. A by Danielle Rice disappointed. The good news is that while we can’t control our families or friends – or many other factors — we can control our expectations. This season, give yourself some room to set the bar a little lower. Expect a little less from yourself (and of others), and just enjoy what does get accomplished. Make time for your own needs. It’s when life is most stressful Take a Moment to Meditate “Telling people to meditate when they don’t even feel like they have time to breathe seems counterintuitive,” says Marianne Clyde, LMFT. “The reality is, though, that even a few moments to slow down and connect with their thoughts can help them be calmer and more productive and less stressed.” Meditation doesn’t have to be complex, notes Clyde. “Meditating can be done in a variety of ways, but the main point I try to get people to concentrate on is their connection to their Creator,” she says. “That connection to wisdom and truth and love and strength helps people know that calmness and peace is already within them; you just need to allow it to flow.” Although there are many ways to meditate and many formal meditation practices, Clyde recommends simply closing your eyes and concentrating on breathing in and out slowly and deeply. “This will slow the heart rate and allow you to feed your bodies with much needed oxygen to help you operate at full capacity,” she explains. You can do this simple meditation at any time when you can get a few minutes alone. And you are alone sometimes, right? Whether it’s while taking a shower, lying in your bed right after waking or before going to sleep, cleaning up in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner (which is when everyone seems to disappear in my house), everyone can find - or create – even just a moment or two to help them stay calm, centered, and focused during the most hectic of days. that we really need to take care of ourselves. and also the time when we are most likely to sacrifice our own needs for other demands. However, if you’re stressed, overwhelmed, and resentful, you’re probably not being as productive as possible, and you’re not making anyone else’s life more pleasant, either! Schedule time for yourself to relax in a hot bubble bath, take a walk, have coffee with a friend or do whatever else makes you feel happy. Block out this time on “Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I your calendar, just like you would any know who can take a wonderful season like other commitment. Then stick with Christmas and turn it into a problem.” it. Remember, saying no to others is –Linus, A Charlie Brown Christmas. always an option. Actually, we can all be a little like Charlie Just breathe. Really, it’s that Brown sometimes; this year, focus on what simple. Slow down, stop, and get matters and find time to relax to make the yourself centered. Taking even a holiday season joyful and not a problem. moment or two to consciously think about your breath and take a break Adjust your expectations. The from all the activity can be beneficial, difference between our expectations and says Marianne Clyde, a family therapist reality can cause stress. If you plan to in Warrenton. Even better, she says, is to win the annual neighborhood decorating take a few minutes to meditate. “If you contest even though you don’t have the can find 5 or 10 minutes to slow down time, money, or interest to do a fullenough to connect with your thoughts, it blown holiday light display, then you can help you be more conscious and calm might be setting yourself up for stress throughout the rest of the day and feel and disappointment. Or if you’re hoping more in control even though there is a lot that this will be the year when you finally going on.” buy that perfect gift for your impossibleFocus on the present. I’m not to-please Great Aunt Mabel, you may be talking about the bought-at-a-store kind putting yourself in a no-win situation, of present (or even the lovingly handmade which will only frustrate you. The more kind of present), but rather the here-Irigidly attached we are to a particular More Joy outcome, the more likely we are to be continued on page 19 2013 • Issue 6 Piedmont Family Magazine 13