Fall is a time of slowing down, or at least that’s what nature’s version of Fall is. Cooling temperatures, falling leaves, and even the increase in amount of head colds spreading around lends to the idea of taking it easy and settling in by the fire. However, it also means that it’s time to gear up for a stressful time of year: The Holidays.
Chances are, you have likely already planned your Halloween costume or those of your family’s (I know I have and am very excited about the costumed classes we’re offering next week*). You may have figured out where you’re having Thanksgiving or other holiday meals and have even started the process of planning the details.
When I was a kid, I wondered why adults seemed to stress during this time of year; after all, it was a time of celebration and creating memories with friends and family. Right? As adults, that’s what many of us hope for, though heightened expectations in tandem with family dynamics and the coordination of different schedules raises those cortisol levels in ways the rest of the year can’t even touch.
Last year, one of my friends not only noticed that stress was sucking her joy out of the season, but also that it was a pattern she experienced year to year. This reflection led her to take action—to break this pattern she had fallen into year after year and make a change. First and foremost, she realized that she her expectations of other people were too lofty and that her pattern was going to continue if she didn’t change this. She also realized that she was trying to do too much and that the quantity of things she was squeezing in far outweighed the quality of the experience. After her initial effort of realizing what needed to change, she set reminders for herself 9 months in advance on her calendar, starting October 1 and continuing into just after the New Year. These reminders were not just task oriented but also included quotes she thought might inspire her through the season. I truly admire her efforts in being reflective (Clearly! I’ve held onto it for nearly a year.) as well as her willingness to change what she is capable of controlling about the holiday season.
If you find yourself getting increasingly stressed year after year, my challenge for you this week is to take note of what specifically stresses you out and come up with proactive ways to avoid those stressors. Even the tiniest changes can make a huge difference. So, for example, you are going to Aunt Tina’s for Christmas Dinner and Cousin Tom, who you can’t stand, will be there. Rather than outright declining the invite from Aunt Tina and escaping the situation altogether, have pithy, but polite, conversation pieces prepared when Tom is around so that you can keep your cool both inwardly and outwardly. When you feel in control of a situation, your stress will subside and you will be better able to thoroughly enjoy and be present this holiday season. And when in doubt, just say no…to quantity. Simplicity is often better for your physical health and mental health. Here’s to the holidays!
*Halloween-themed classes include:
Theme Ride: Tuesday, 10/26, 7:00pm
Raise the Barre: Friday, 10/30, 5:30pm
ALL of Saturday’s classes
Costumes are encouraged!