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  • Cameron Burris

Destressing During the Holidays

I'll be the first to admit, the holiday season snuck up on me this year. Between transitioning jobs, moving cities, and various financial expenditures (don't even get me started on inflation) this is the first year in a while that I haven't had everything "planned out". In fact, as I write this only four days before Christmas, in spite of the fact that I have so many family members coming to town, I haven't purchased a single gift...

A couple days ago I posted on my stories asking what ya'll wanted to see in the next newsletter. And when I saw a friend of mine asked for some insight on ways to destress, I knew I could benefit from my own advice. Here are a few tips to help you recenter during a stressful holiday season.

  1. PLAN AHEAD. (I think*) most major holidays occur around the same time each year. For many of us, it's inevitable that multiple commitments will be placed on us within a day. Make sure to plan and communicate what events you plan to attend, in person or virtual. And if you know you can't/won't be attending an event, let the host know ahead of time! It'll save you both some anxiety--them from wondering if you're coming and you from letting them know last minute!

  2. MAKE A BUDGET. 'Tis the season for naughty vs nice lists, letters to Santa, record-setting inflation, and cash strapped adults. It's not the season to personalize financial restraints and use it to judge your sense of worth, purpose, or identity. If you intend to purchase gifts for folks remember knowing that someone thought of you enough to get something is worth more than the gift itself. Also, there are so many great gift ideas that are free or low cost! Seriously, google "free or low cost gift ideas" and see if there's one gift you can send that doesn't cost you anything. Ultimately, know that your presence is better than any present, and you're not likely to be present when you're stressed about how much money you spent on gifts. Trust me, I've been there.

  3. SAY NO. I know the holidays are often framed as a time to be the most benevolent, the most gracious, the most giving, blah, blah, blah. If these are qualities you already possess there's little need to kick it in high gear for the sake of making the Nice List, you're probably already on it!! Instead of saying yes to every commitment and demand placed on you, try to find ways to balance your yes's with firm no's. Think about it like this, every time you say no to something or someone you can say yes to yourself. Also, not everyone is deserving of your energy at any time of the year, so why are we prioritizing their needs during the holidays? Hmmm, food for thought...

  4. KEEP YOUR HEALTHY HABITS. I love to start my morning by working out. Mondays through Fridays between 7:30 and 8AM you'll find me listening to my music, getting my sweat on, shaking that ass, and building discipline which helps me center my day. Find ways to make your healthy habits work for you over the holidays. Do you like yoga in the evening but you'll be out of town? Find a cool local yoga studio and be in community OR find a virtual yoga session through apps like Insight Timer. Don't let the holidays be an excuse to regress on your commitments and priorities. There's nothing like ending the year wishing you had been more disciplined.

  5. EXPRESS YOURSELF. Tell folks how you really feel. When someone asks how you are, try to give them an authentic response other than "good, okay, fine". While holiday seasons are often portrayed as a joyous time for many of us it only enhances feelings of grief and loss. For others, lack of quality connections can feed into isolation. We may feel disconnected from community and yet longing for meaningful relationships. One thing I learned as a child was that if you want something, you have to be willing to give it. If you find yourself isolated, missing community, struggling with loneliness--volunteer. Donate your quality time. Connect with a therapist. Sometimes when we feel like no one understands us we feel this push to do something impulsive, to be seen, heard, and understood if only for a moment. When expression leads to self destructive behavior we've gone too far. Get help.

  6. STAY CONNECTED. Heavy feelings during the holidays are completely normal and no reason to isolate. Now more than ever we need to find ways to get back into community instead of feeding into disconnection. It can start by reaching out to a friend or loved one to check in. Instead of the usual "how are you" messages, maybe try something like this "I'm just checking in, you good? Give me the long answer. I got time". Let people know that you're there to listen nonjudgmentally, and don't be surprised when they give you that safe space right back.

As I write this, I feel myself growing calmer with the thought that I have all I need this holiday season. My basic needs are met, I have people to connect with, I'll be joined by more loved ones this weekend, I have my health. I feel loved, seen, understood.

I hope this holiday season can be one of peace, groundedness, and authentic joy for you too. If not, that's okay.

May you find sacred community that can be present with you through all seasons of your journey.

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