Learning To De-Stress This Holiday Season, So You Can Enjoy It

It's the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say. The holidays bring a lot of cheer, but they can also result in tremendous stress. The constant hustle and bustle can get a bit exhausting if you're unprepared, and while it is only a few months out of every year, the time can not go fast enough for some.

However, holidays should be enjoyable, and there is no reason they can't be still, especially if you learn to de-stress and embrace some straightforward changes. While some look at the holiday season as the season of obligations, others view it as a time to share, love, and reflect. Learning to de-stress is about changing your mindset and realizing you still have control.

Embrace the Power of "No"

There is this idea that saying "no" around the holidays is unconscionable, that somehow declining a party invitation will find you disowned by your family and friends, forever alone for the holidays yet to come. The imaginings of a lonely future typically result in people saying yes to any and every invite, leaving little room for self-care and reflection.

You should go to gatherings that you want to, and you should feel free to participate in traditions you enjoy. However, you also need to make sure that you leave room in your schedule to celebrate yourself.

Embracing "no" allows you to set aside time for self-improvement and empowerment, to focus on your health and sanity. You are allowed to say "no" to an invitation even without an excuse. You can say "no" simply because you need a break or want one.

Accept and Ask for Help

One of the joys of the holidays is inviting people over to visit and celebrate the season. The problem arises when an individual takes on the sole responsibility of providing entertainment, food, music, etc.

While you invited people, there is nothing wrong with asking for a bit of help. For instance, instead of taking on the burden of feeding 20 or 30 of your closest friends and family, consider throwing a potluck. Potlucks encourage participation and can help build community. Plus, a potluck will save you a load of money.

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Exercise and Meditate

The holidays are notorious for weight gain. People dive into celebrations, enjoying the sweets and possibly drinking a little too much. The problem with over celebrating is that people often forget to maintain their physical health, which can directly affect their mental health.

Physical activity encourages the production of endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Exercise also leads to more energy and a positive mood, which is crucial in the winter, especially with seasonal affective disorder.

Additionally, taking the time to meditate can positively influence mood and stress. Mindfulness is known to reduce the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. It can also provide necessary moments of quiet and reflection.

Learn To Laugh

It is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out during the holidays, but it is necessary to find enjoyment. Try not to take the holidays too seriously and expect the failure or disruption of plans because life happens after all.

Just take everything with a grain of salt and take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself that stress will pass and that the true spirit of the holiday is celebration, family, and love.

The holiday season is a reminder to cherish all of the important things in life, but it is also a time to celebrate yourself and where you are on your journey. Embrace traditions, but remember to take time for yourself.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Comment below.

5 of My Best Tips to Avoid Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage is one of those strange things we tend to do to ourselves when we’re trying to improve our lives. While it may seem impossible to understand why we sabotage ourselves, there are valid psychological and scientific reasons for this type of behavior. But that doesn’t mean we should just accept that tearing ourselves down is normal! If you’re ready to become your biggest fan instead of your biggest saboteur, take a look at my five best tips to avoid self-sabotage.

1. Visualize Positive Outcomes

One of the first things you want to do to stop the self-sabotage cycle is to visualize yourself beating your sugar cravings, building a long-lasting relationship with someone you love, and conquering any other goal you’ve made for yourself.

Too often, we make goals to improve ourselves, but in our minds, we’ve already failed from the start. We visualize how awful it will feel when we cave to our cravings or when we mess up a new relationship. But we need to remember that our thoughts are powerful. If we want to be successful at reaching our goals, we need to visualize ourselves winning at life. This isn’t pride or cockiness. It’s harnessing the power of positive thinking and self-love.

2. Beware the “Start Tomorrow” Trap

Did you know there’s an old song about “going on a diet tomorrow?” Who can’t relate to that sentiment, right? It’s normal to want to put off improving your life, even if it’s just for one day. If you’re like me, Monday seems to be the magic day for turning over a new leaf. But the truth is, putting off improvements until tomorrow, next week, or next month isn’t the best idea. It can squash your motivation and cause your target goals to always stay just out of reach.

So decide today that you’ll no longer wait until tomorrow. If you want to make a positive life change, do it today. Do it now. Taking action is the only way to turn your dreams and goals into tangible realities.

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3. Figure Out What Steps You Need to Take

If you have a super vague goal, you’re less likely to reach it. For example, if your goal is something like “get healthy,” it’s too vague to chase. To be successful at improving your life, health and relationships, you need to make tangible goals and outline the steps necessary to reach them.

Think about what steps you need to take to become healthier. Do you need to change your diet? Eliminate certain foods? Add certain foods? Get a certain amount of activity every day? When you outline the steps you need to take to get where you want to be, your goal suddenly becomes attainable.

4. Take Note of Your Self-Sabotaging Patterns

If you want to stop sabotaging yourself, you need to pay close attention to your self-sabotaging patterns. How do you sabotage yourself? Do you procrastinate (this goes back to the “start tomorrow” trap?

Do you quit suddenly because you aren’t progressing as rapidly as you’d like? Do you intentionally binge eat or adopt other unhealthy habits to punish yourself for not sticking to your goals with preciseness? Once you take note of your self-sabotaging patterns, you can develop a plan for overcoming them.

5. Build Yourself Up

My final tip is to treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. We can be so mean to ourselves sometimes, and that will only lead to failure. Learn how to love and accept yourself how you are and praise your efforts every time you get closer to becoming a better version of yourself. Be kind to the person in the mirror and you’ll be surprised how rapidly your self-esteem and confidence improve.

What do you think about my tips for avoiding self-sabotage? I hope they work well for you and help you become the amazing person I know you can be!

5 Undeniable Benefits of Self-Care on Your Health

Self-care may be a trending term in recent years, but it is not a new concept. Nor is it an exclusive practice solely for the wealthy or people with an excessive amount of time on their hands. Self-care is simply the practice of taking care of yourself to preserve and improve both your physical health and emotional well-being. Though most forms of self-care are free, those that do cost money are likely to be affordable. Regardless of how much you do or do not pay, self-care activities can have a wealth of benefits. Below are just a few of them.

1. Self-Care Activities Can Improve Your Physical Health

Many self-care activities involve changing your diet for the better and incorporating exercise and mediation into your daily routine. These changes often translate to improved muscle tone, increased bone mass, better heart health, more energy and other measurable benefits. These benefits, in turn, trigger the body’s relaxation response, which can help to lower stress levels.

2. Self-Care Can Help Reduce Anxiety and Depression Levels

Common forms of self-care include taking warm baths, meditating, listening to music and going for walks. Each of these activities triggers the body’s natural relaxation response, which, in addition to reducing symptoms of stress, can also reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

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3. Self-Care Can Boost Self-Esteem

When you treat yourself like you matter, you will begin to feel as if you do, too. Though it’s important to always know that you matter, if you ever feel yourself questioning your value or worth, take a few moments for yourself. Thinking positive thoughts while engaging in a relaxing activity may be just what you need to gain a new perspective that allows you to look upon yourself with more kindness. In fact, studies show that people who regularly engage in self-care activities have higher levels of self-esteem, are better able to achieve their self-improvement goals and can more easily overcome setbacks.

4. Self-Care Makes You a Better Friend and Loved One

Too many people believe that to be a great parent, child, spouse, significant other or what-have-you, they must bend over backward to do things for others. Sadly, these people often run themselves ragged to the point where they are unable to give their best to anyone.

If you want to give the best version of yourself to the people near and dear to you, you need to take care of your own needs, too. Imagine if, for every five things you did for someone else, you did something for yourself in return. Though the ratio may seem off, such a system may result in you treating yourself kindly several times a day, which can open your eyes to just how much you do for others and how little you do for yourself. Little rewards — whether in the form of an extra cup of coffee or a five-minute reading session — can also help you look forward to lending a helping hand, rather than viewing it as just another thing you have to do. All of this equates to more positive energy to lend to friends and family.

5. Self-Care Can Help Preserve Your Mental Health

Each of the aforementioned benefits works together to produce a single priceless outcome: preserved mental health. With so much to stress and worry about these days, your mental health is an invaluable asset that you want to protect at all costs. Fortunately, when you engage in self-care, the price is minimal to non-existent.

If you have yet to prioritize self-care, now is the time to change that. By taking just a few minutes of your day to show yourself some love and appreciation, you can experience a world of benefits.