7 Ways to Handle Holiday Stress

bahhumbug

Rather than joy and anticipation the holiday season often brings stress, frustration and tension as we deal with the hustle and bustle. To help you cope, snap out of it, or at least feel a sense of balance I am sharing with you seven easy tips and tricks to lift your spirits and restore a sense of balance.

1. Forgive yourself and everyone around you: Holding grudges and blaming yourself drains you of energy and makes you no fun. Disagreements will happen during the holidays because everyone is on edge; consider the stress factor and don’t take it personal.

2. Be of Service: Doing for others is a sure fire way to help you both. Don’t do it because you should, do it because it is a great thing to do. Make it personal or join a group for a community service project. Volunteering for the good of others benefits everyone!

3. Be Realistic: Just because your mother made killer cinnamon rolls for the neighborhood and your father won the house decorating contest each year doesn’t mean you should. Scale it down and create new traditions that your own children will have trouble living up to when they are adults!

4. Keep Your Exercise Schedule: The holidays are no time to abandon your exercise routine. If you are bored, vary it a bit but do not quit. The time you save by not exercising won’t make up for the positive results lost. I have dodged a lot of pounds over the years by exercising through December.

5. Choose Wisely: Three dinners and one open house on the same day? No way! Make wise choices, without guilt, about what events you will attend in the month ahead.

6. Get Enough Sleep: Instead of staying up to wrap presents or staying another hour at a party you really didn’t want to attend anyway, go to bed! Sleepy people are testy, grumpy, make a mountain out of a mole hill people and that is one thing to avoid this time of year.

7. Be Still and Breathe: This works 365 days a year. Throughout the day stop what you are doing, sit back, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Ten ‘in through the nose out through the mouth’ breaths will bring relaxation and clarity to your world.

 

Acceptance-It Is What It Is

 

Acceptance

I am slowly seeing that acceptance is not a state of passivity or inaction, but rather the starting point of action. For me, and maybe for you, this is HUGE! Trying to change something or make progress toward a goal without accepting the reality of the situation will only lead to frustration and failure. For example, my entire life I have had to watch my weight and as an adolescent I was quite heavy. In order to really change my situation I had to conquer my thoughts of: “Why did this happen to me?”, “I’ll never be able to change the way I look.”, “I could make a change but my family isn’t helping me.”, “If I was taller than everything would be easier.” Obviously the list could go on and on and this stream of thinking can apply to any part of your life that you feel unhappy with; relationships, career success, friendships, and more. Instead I finally chose to accept myself (well kind of) and take responsibility for changing what I could. I never did get taller, but I was able to make drastic changes in my appearance and choices so that today I am much healthier than I was 30 some years ago.

To help you understand:

Acceptance Isn’t
-approval, endorsement, consent, agreement, confirmation, or condoning every situation.
-hitting your head against a wall of “should’s”, “have-to’s”, “must’s”, or “ought’s” instead of
moving forward.
-sitting back and wishing or hoping something will change or improve.
-labeling everything that happens to you as fair, just, or deserving.
-blaming others, the universe or higher powers for what you perceive as wrong with your life.

Acceptance Is
-using creativity and enthusiasm to overcome life’s frustrations.
-making a plan and breaking it down into achievable goals.
-eliminating the words “should”, “ought”, “have-to” and “must” from your vocabulary.
-taking personal responsibility for your life and refusing to whine and blame your way out of
situations.
-a sign of strength not weakness.
-seeing the incidents in life as something you can handle, not an excuse to give up.

Coming to a place of acceptance can be easy or hard; even knowing the truth I still oscillate between the two. To begin your acceptance journey, start with yourself. Many of life’s lessons come to us in the form of perceived “failures”. We can choose to learn the lesson or we can berate ourselves for our mistakes. Many of us can accept and be supportive of others but apply a more critical eye to our own fallible human ways. Strive to be as understanding of yourself as you are to others.

QUOTES OF THE MONTH

“Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgment of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you’re going to do about it.” ~Kathleen Casey Theisen

“And that’s the way it is.” ~Walter Cronkite

Darla shows people how creativity and personal responsibility can change the world by positively effecting perceptions, attitudes, and relationships. For additional information on Darla’s programs and life coaching or to sign up to receive her Full Plate No Fork Newsletter or email her at Darla@DarlaArni.com.

When Stuff Happens

This Too Shall Pass

We never know when life is going to throw us a curve! Little did I know in November 2013 that I would be speaking at the Missouri Hospital Association Conference one week and be in the hospital the next. I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Polymyositis and have been fighting it for over a year. It is a rare disease that attacks the muscles and I was being treated locally with little progress. In March I luckily got an appointment at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to see a Rheumatologist who specializes in this type of disease and he started me on a treatment that has been nothing short of miraculous! After being on his treatment only a week and a half I was able to drive and go up and down stairs; something I hadn’t been able to do for months. I am almost done with the treatment and while I still have some flexibility to regain, I have my life back!

 The last 2 years have been exhausting, challenging and frustrating as we also sold our home in the middle of all this; I signed the closing papers on our home while lying in a hospital bed. However our new home was being renovated so we lived in three different temporary housing situations until the end of March. Whew!! At the same time I know there have been important life lessons learned and many blessings through my experiences and am determined to get back to speaking, life coaching, and motivating others. I finally feel good enough to resume my business activities and have new insights and amazing stories of inspiration and coping to share with my newsletter subscribers and clients.

When your life takes a hit, you have choices to make. You can choose to ignore it, you can choose to whine about it and live in fear of the next big thing that happens, or you can handle it to the best of your ability with courage, creativity, responsibility, and the knowledge that you will not give up!  Help yourself and those around you by implementing these 5 important skills when stuff happens.

1. Be kind to yourself. 
This is no time for perfectionism. Be more effective, stress less, and conserve energy by adjusting your expectations of yourself. Sure you want to do your best but our ‘best’ varies with our emotional, mental and physical state.

2. Be mindful of your self-talk.  
The inner dialogue and daily messages you send yourself can be your worst enemy. Begin by monitoring the voice in your brain and replace self inflicted criticism with acceptance. When you control your mind you take control of your life.

3. Tune out and turn off.  Too much media focuses on repeating the problems and tragedies in the world. You can’t solve the problems of the world and adding them to your personal concerns can be overwhelming. Allow yourself some quiet time to rejuvenate and restore balance.
 
4. Take small steps.  
Focus on what you can do right now to better your situation instead of the enormity of the problem. List 5 things you can do today that will bring about a positive change and do them. Accomplishments are contagious and small action steps lead to success!

5. Avoid being a Drama Queen or King.
It looks good on t-shirts, pillows and media outlets; it doesn’t play well in real life. Give up the reality show mentality and realize that every incident in your life is not an emergency unless you choose to make it so.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“We don’t get to choose the things that happen to us in life. What we can choose is how to react to them, how we deal with them, and how we move on.”
-Sarah Winter

Perception Deception

Steve-h / Foter

Perception seems like such a straight forward thing. We assume that what and how we perceive something, whether it is the weather, our boss, our relationships, a news story, or the size of our hips, is reality. Not so fast. We might physically see or experience the same thing as someone standing next to us, but we perceive it differently. That’s because perception involves taking what we see or feel and running it through our mental filters that are based upon our own past life experiences.

Too often we rely on our limited experiences to make judgments and decisions every day. We perceive situations, food, music, individuals and even whole countries by an often outdated, second or third hand experience.  If you’ve attended a high school class reunion or happened to run into someone who knew you as  a child, you know what I’m talking about. No matter what you have become, done or accomplished former classmates assume you to be as you were ten, twenty or thirty years ago. Our experiences have changed us but those who knew us before often hold onto their past view of who we were.  Is it any wonder we have discord and misunderstandings in the world?

Let go of preconceived notions and expand your day-to-day experiences, pull yourself out of the rut of ‘same old, same old’ and learn to fully appreciate the variety that exists in the world.  Where do you start? Small, of course and work up!

1. Retrain your palate.  Are you a regular who eats the same thing for lunch or breakfast? Is Wednesday always meatloaf and Friday pizza? Has it been years since you set foot in a new restaurant? Mix it up a bit and try that new Mexican place, give Brussel sprouts a chance, or grill salmon the next time instead of burgers. The worst is you won’t like it and you get to try something else the next time!

2. Culture won’t kill you  Do you remember a museum as some place an adult made you spend hours of time when you really wanted to be outside? Many museums today now have interactive exhibits; often feature local artists, and shows that change every few weeks. Check out what museums within a sixty mile radius have to offer and note the exhibits or special activities they have planned for the summer.

3. Ear for music I always loved stations that played music from my college years but shied away from current pop and country. Then my daughter got an iPod and as I downloaded tunes for her, guess what? I actually liked many of the songs! Now I find myself tuning into different stations in the car and learning lyrics to new songs. My taste of music has expanded and so can yours.

4. In your own backyard Often we plan elaborate trips and vacations to far away places but spend little time exploring what is within a few hundred miles of our home. I’m not saying give up your get-a-ways, but also take time, save money and energy by exploring the sites within your area. A quick, on-line search can reveal a year’s worth of day and weekend trips to satisfy your quest for adventure.

5. Set in your ways Do you always sit the same place at the dinner table, church, in the car, or the family room? We can become so comfortable in ‘our seat’ that we become irritated when someone dares to sit there! Let it go and try moving yourself around so you have a different view of the same old places. You might like it.

No excuses, branch out, stick your big toe in the water and dare to try something new. Be brave enough to open yourself up to new experiences, new points of view, and perhaps new connections.

“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Leo Tolstoy