How to deal with holiday stress

 In Coaches, Healthy Lifestyles, Professional & Olympic Athletes, Stress

19474027448_0302a70c56_o_dThe holidays are fast approaching. Thanksgiving is next week! Yikes! I am not prepared and there’s so much do…how do you prepare? It’s helpful to think about what you need to do and plan for it; physically & mentally. Having a plan allows you to not only recognize what you have to do but gives you an opportunity to think about how to do it. From the practical things (i.e. grocery shopping and cooking) to the emotional things (i.e. dealing with family).

During the holidays it can also be helpful to minimize the number of stressful situations. For example, I will be with my family for Thanksgiving but will not work during that time. Maybe you only take phone calls and answer emails at certain times during the holiday and if that’s the case you can also cut down on stress by letting people know when you are available. Sound crazy? Maybe but what’s the alternative?

One alternative is that you ‘show up’ and wham are flooded with stress and emotions you somehow knew were going to be there again this year but you still didn’t prepare for them. How then do you deal with the stress once it hits you? One way is through some deep breathing (app: Breathe2Relax). Deep breath in through your nose. Exhale through your mouth and drop your shoulders. Do this two or three times. If you own a HR monitor (or an iWatch) start by checking your HR. After 2-3 deep breaths check it again. It will lower.

Next, meditation (app: Simply Being) is an excellent source to help you relax and let go of stress. I’ve recommended meditation to 85% of my clients and 84% love it. They feel a noticeable difference. When I say meditation, I don’t mean the kind where you sit and try to clear your mind (there isn’t necessarily wrong with it). I mean the kind where you are taken out of your negative, stressful state and translated into a more mindful, positive state.

Taking a few deep breaths or meditating not only calms and relaxes you (mind & body) but it lowers your HR and relieves any jittery or butterfly feelings sometimes associated with stress. Breathing & meditation both allow you to let go on negativity and can be used to help get you present.

How is this temporary solution helpful? It gives you a pause so that you can start again rather than allowing the stress and the feelings associated with it to continue to grow bigger and bigger…out of control and stressful. Stress not only feels bad and doesn’t allow us to effectively deal with situations but it can lead to health issues. Planning, saying no and cutting back can help eliminate the amount of stress but it’s also important to have ways of coping with stress.

These holiday solutions can be developed into long term solutions. They are some of the building blocks I use when clients want to learn how to deal with stress, however, there are many other options.

If you haven’t bought your turkey yet, don’t stress, take a deep breath, carve some time out of your schedule and put it in your calendar!

Dr. Michelle

Photo cred: www.flickr.com

Dr. Michelle Cleere
In her own private practice as an elite performance expert, Dr. Michelle Cleere helps top athletes, musicians, and executives in competitive fields unlock the power of the mind and create the mental toughness to be the best. Dr. Michelle’s extensive academic background, which includes a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Sports Psychology, allows her to help clients deal with performance anxiety, gain more confidence, and build resilience. In addition to personal coaching, Dr. Michelle takes on many roles – a best-selling author, athlete, and teacher. Dr. Michelle’s bestseller line, Beating the Demons, helps clients develop practical skills to gain more control over competitive environments and mitigate the interruption in play to overcome intense odds and defeat adversity. As a 15-year USAT Coach, she developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, and they are used by coaches around the world. She is a professor at John F. Kennedy University where she teacher her students to use the mind as an ally to improve performance.
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