Holiday stress-busting tips

by Aurora Winter — 

First, make your own happiness and peace of mind a priority.

Tired of being tired? Stress increases over the holiday season, due to more shopping, parties and obligations. We are juggling visitors, travel and our usual duties, which are stressful enough.

Those happy holiday messages can be painfully at odds with our own lives if we are dealing with heartbreak, such as a death, divorce, breakup or job loss. New Year’s resolutions can cause additional stress, as people struggle to incorporate many ambitious new habits or goals into their routines.

Get relief this holiday season and for the new year by applying the following stress-busting tips.

First, make your own happiness and peace of mind a priority. Did you know that happy people are 35 percent less likely to get sick and live an average of seven years longer? And happy people earn a million dollars more over their lifetime.

Dedicate a few moments to stress relief — it is worth it. You will enjoy huge dividends in terms of your happiness, health and wealth.

When you catch yourself rushing, take a few deep breaths. Come into the present moment. Stress shows up when you are doing one thing yet thinking of a dozen other things you should be doing. Fully focus on one task or activity at a time, and you will be happier.

Perfectionism also creates stress. If you find yourself agonizing about finding the “perfect” present, hosting the “perfect” party or squeezing into the “perfect” little black dress, give someone a hug. Hugs release the “tend-and-befriend” hormone called oxytocin, which makes you feel good. Three hugs a day will immunize you from stress and remind you of the true holiday spirit.

If you are tired of being tired, the best thing you can do is discover the real culprit. In many cases, it is unresolved grief. People often overlook its cumulative impact, especially during the holiday season. The happy holiday messages can be like salt in the wounds of death, divorce, breakups and other losses.

Many people think that healing from grief just takes time. The truth is, it is not time that does the healing, it is what you do with the time that counts.

The New Year is a wonderful time for a fresh start, but that also can trigger stress. For example, a newly single person may make a resolution to get out there and start dating again. The decision to be proactive is good, but it can also be a painful reminder of shattered hopes and dreams.

Most people mistakenly make too many New Year’s resolutions. It takes about a month to incorporate a new habit into your life. People set themselves up for failure by trying to change a dozen things at once. So choose just one New Year’s resolution to focus on each month and you will set yourself up for success. Why not dedicate January to choosing happiness and peace of mind? This singular new habit will gradually transform your entire life in wonderful ways.

Another key to leading a vibrant life is to surround yourself with positive, successful people. People who are living their life’s purpose have a youthful zest for life that is contagious. Choose to be one of these people. Your income tends to be equal to the five people you are most influenced by. So choose a successful mentor, surround yourself with people who are making a difference, join a Mastermind group, and continue growing and learning.

Find your passion. Do not settle for just a job when you could be living your calling. People who are living their passion are inspired because they know they are making a difference. They are authentically happy.

In terms of taking care of your body, it comes down to simple basics. Eat wholesome, healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables; drink water; exercise; and get your beauty sleep.

Sleep is a huge component in supporting health and happiness. When you get enough sleep, it is much easier to be happy. Getting at least eight hours of sleep a night will also help you lose weight. When you are stressed, you need an extra hour of sleep.

Finally, daily habits such as meditation, keeping a gratitude journal or taking a walk in nature will help you enjoy life.

Here are my top 10 tips for stress relief:

  1. Decide to make happiness and peace of mind a priority.
  2. Let go of rushing. Breathe deeply and choose peace.
  3. Let go of grief and stressful emotions. Get support.
  4. Focus on just one New Year’s resolution each month.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. Be one yourself.
  6. Get plenty of sleep. Take care of your body.
  7. Eat healthy food. Drink water. Exercise.
  8. Let go of perfectionism. Give hugs.
  9. Meditate or take a peaceful walk in nature every day.
  10. Find your passion. Then take action to improve the world.

If you are not bouncing out of bed excited to start each day, try working with a certified coach who can help you become enthusiastic about life again. If you would like to find out about getting a coach to help you achieve your goals, or becoming a coach and helping others, you can get a free strategy session at:

Aurora Winter, formerly a film and TV executive producer, is founder of and the author of From Heartbreak to Happiness® and Encouraging Words. She was featured in the award-winning documentary “What If: The Movie” and is a workshop leader, coach trainer and speaker.


Reprinted from AZNetNews, Volume 30, Number 6, Dec/Jan 2012.

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