Holiday stress relief could come from banishing holidays, but there has got to be at least one holiday, maybe Groundhog day, that you like.
So maybe it is not the holiday that brings stress, but the thoughts about the holidays, and if I change the thoughts, then I change the physiology in my body, which is what stress is, right, an uncomfortable physiology in my body?
(Stress physiology happens fast, perhaps four times as fast as I can blink my eyes, and has a purpose, and it is not designed to be a habit).
Not sure about you, but when I was a little guy and school started and football started and the leaves turned colors, I felt excitement about the time of year, and looked forward to it, and as I remember delivering the Minneapolis Star Tribune on my early morning route some 50 or so years ago, I feel that same excitement. So that memory of events that happened over 1/2 century ago changes my body today.
That one half century old memory still brings the physiology of pleasure to my body, and that process is the key to holiday stress tips.
But back to the story. As a little guy, when I heard the first Christmas carol on the radio or TV, I felt excitement too, about Christmas, and that physiology was based on an anticipation of what might happen.
Our economic reality was not good, so I knew that I would not get a mountain of presents, but I still felt the excitement, and that is what we would now call eustress or good stress, linked to a positive anticipation.
I still get that tingle when I hear Christmas carols, although they start much earlier in the year now.
And then I change that positive anticipation, that eustress, to distress, by adding in many thoughts about responsibilities I know have including visits to the inlaws and how do I keep my business moving ahead and attend to the holidays for example, and how do I handle my wife's expectations about what the holidays should look like.
For her it involves lots of family and parties and chatter,ect.
For me it involves quite contemplation, oftentimes done in private.
There is a collision of lifestyles, and when I think about hers, I feel anxious, so it is the thought of fall and fall colors and football and Christmas carols which brings an eager anticipation and the thought about large gatherings of noisy people, even though I like the people, which brings the feeling of anxiety.
Change the thought to change the feeling. And do it on a schedule.
Is there some reason that I must feel anxious more than I feel good, since it is my thoughts that bring my physiology?
No reason at all, so I believe that we should schedule our thoughts about gratitude, for example, for every five minutes, for at least two heart beats.
That way I get my body used to the idea that it can feel good, whenever it wants to.
Now this is not a rapturous, transcendent kind of pleasure, it is a quiet contentment, and I see no reason not to have it on demand.
After all, I had that kind of physiology as a kid, but got trained out of it, as I grew up.
Time to remember that I can feel a quiet contentment and still take care of my responsibilities. Feeling good is not limited to payday, or Friday before the weekend, or that special date, or TV show, it is ok to feel good anytime.
It is actually the norm for humans to feel ok, the stress response should happen when I need to move quickly into fight, flee, or freeze action, and then I should rest while the feast is cooked.
And a tool to help with this process since it is so easy to get locked into the worst case scenario mindset?
Learn Heartmath. Heartmath or heart rate variability biofeedback is a powerful tool that gives real time feedback about how your thinking impacts your physiology, and how fast that happens too.
As you learn how fast you can move from an affiliative, cooperative heart centered physiology, you learn how easy it is to switch back to that physiology, so your holiday stress relief is actually done heart beat by heart beat, and that is at the slow end of the scale, because you will get trained in a cue thought to use with the Heartmath Freeze Frame practice that works at the speed of thought.
For example, when I first heard of Heartmath in 2000, and bought it, I created a thought where I pictured my children, Shane, and Hannah Marie, as best I could, and placed that image inside my chest next to my heart, and the brain in my heart (yes, your heart has its own nervous system) learned that it was to get itself very coherent and feel a lot of love whenever I had that thought.
So I practice that thought routinely over the course of the day, to feel love, because that feeling of love feels good and is far healthier for me than distress over their various kiddie crimes.
Why create distress unnecessarily over kiddie crimes that happened in the past, or have not yet happened?
I prefer to solve problems from a place of eustress rather than distress and Heartmath is the tool for eustress.
Are you an athlete seeking to perform at your peak, or a student preparing for the Graduate Records Exam, Law School Admissions Test? Heartmath is an excellent tool to open the higher perceptual centers of the brain for brainstorming
Heartmath has grown out of research in the new field of neurocardiology, which is the study of the heart's own nervous system. The heart can learn and make decisions on its own, it senses a number of things, and sends much more data up about emotional issues than the brain sends down.
So regulating your hearts coherence is a must do for holiday stress relief.
Oh, it took me all of six one-half hour practices to get a good solid feel for the process, which means I no longer need the computer to complete the eustress creation, on demand, on any given heart beat.
Want to check it out?
(Don't forget that one of the leading brain fitness gurus, Alvaro Fernandez, at Sharp Brains, rates Heartmath as the best stress management tool in the market).
Here is a link to the Heartmath store and a video link.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.