Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are so many things I love about this time of year. I love coming up with new gluten free recipes. I love spending time with family. I even love listening to the same Xmas songs over and over again on the radio. While the holidays bring tons of cheer, there are also plenty of stressors ring-ting-tingling their way into our lives. Raise your hand if the holidays are already stressing you out. They aren’t even here yet but some of us may already feel it.
Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. You might feel the pressure of cooking a Thanksgiving feast for 15 people without drying out the turkey. You may experience family stress which tends to be more pronounced during the holiday season. Perhaps the holidays bring about financial stress with lots of gift-giving on the horizon. Whatever your stressors may be, the holidays are a great time to start practicing Mindfulness to help cope with and manage your stress.
One way to bring more awareness or mindfulness into your life is to start noticing your stress reactions. What happens to your body when faced with a stressful situation? Do your armpits get sweaty? Do your hands get clammy? Do you clench your teeth? Maybe you get a belly ache or a headache or your heart starts pounding. We call these stress reactions. Learning to recognize your own stress reactions is the first step in coping with stress better.
For example, let's say you get into a little argument with Aunt Betsy over the right way to make the gravy. Immediately you notice that you are clenching your teeth and your heart is beating fast. So, you take a moment to breathe, purposefully let go of your clenched teeth and realize that it's just gravy and Aunt Betsy will put her two cents in no matter what. Another tension headache diverted – no pain medication needed! You see, usually we only start paying attention once we already have a raging tension headache and wonder how on earth we got it. If we start catching ourselves reacting to stress early on, we can gain a better sense of control over the situation and over our body’s reaction to that situation. With Mindfulness practice, you can start becoming aware of stress as it is happening.
Bringing Mindfulness into a stressful situation may not remove the stress completely but learning how to manage your overall stress load will improve your well being and quality of life. Plus, less stress means less over eating and drinking...and with the new year just around the corner, your newfound self awareness will make keeping those resolutions a whole lot easier.
Check out our feature from last year to learn more about why we get so sleepy after the Thanksgiving Feast. Hint: Don't Blame it on the Tryptophan!
Cheers to a happy and low stress holiday season!