We should all look forward to the holidays as a time to celebrate with family and friends. But all too often, the stress of the season prevents us from enjoying ourselves. The way you think of the holidays will determine how you experience them. So if you think, “Oh no, here come the holidays with their stress and exhaustion and pseudo-nostalgic crap,” that’s exactly what you’ll experience. But carefully choosing different words and thoughts can transform your holiday this year.
Here are some top tips from the experts at online stress management tool meQuilibrium, to help you make the holidays truly happy.
1) Change your words. Notice the words you use to describe your holiday, even to yourself, and start replacing them with something a little less fraught.
For example: replace “chaos” with “bustle” – a fun and happening word that conveys holiday dynamism without the negativity.
2) Speak kindly. A direct and simple way to change someone’s day, not to mention your own! Speak gently and mindfully, look them in the eye, touch their arm, ask if you can help – these go a long way for both of you.
3) Let your listening speak for you. There is no kinder act than to really listen to another person. When you listen, breathe slowly and evenly, settle into a comfortable position and turn towards the speaker. Don’t worry about offering solutions or softening painful emotions; just hold the attention.
4) Say those three little words (plus two more). Saying “I love you”—whether to your spouse, a friend, your kids—is a bona fide mood lifter and stress reducer. And, when you find a way to say “thank you,” you increase your optimism, immunity, and ability to stay calm.
For example: Leave a love or thank-you note on the mirror, by text message, or a card sent to the office.
5) Shift your self-talk. The holidays are a lot tougher when you scald yourself with critical self-talk. Extending kind thoughts to yourself can help you let go of anger and resentment, and allow you to speak kindly and compassionately to others.
For example: When you catch yourself starting to self-critique, imagine a friend who was berating herself in the same way. What would you say? Use that same tone and language to turn the negative words to gentle affirmation.