Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! These phrases catch our ears and elicit smiles among neighbors, family members, and even strangers encountering each other at the store. As Christmas draws near and winter break ebbs and flows, lives have undoubtedly been changed by the pandemic and this year may feel particularly challenging. Here are some brief tips to help you reduce stress during this unusual holiday season and afterwards:
- Aim for “good enough”. Start by setting realistic expectations. Do not expect things to go perfectly. Give yourself (and others) permission to be the imperfect humans we are – even more reason to celebrate the gift of our Savior who has covered our imperfections.
- Plan time-outs. If you are staying with others this holiday season, build in time for yourself. Go outside for a walk or run, or go to another room to decompress; breathing deeply in a quiet place for several minutes helps to reduce stress.
- Practice acceptance. When difficult feelings arise, allow them to surface and acknowledge them. Try taking a few slow, deep breaths. Notice, without judgment, what you are thinking or feeling. Then return your attention to your breath. Repeat the process until you feel better.
- Remember the basics. Make time to get good sleep, include healthy foods and snacks in your diet, drink plenty of water, and limit alcohol and caffeine. Regular exercise has long been known to decrease stress, so try to keep up with an exercise program if you have one. If you don’t, maybe now is a good time to begin; start slowly with walking or yoga and focus on keeping a consistent practice.
- Managing crisis: If the break feels overwhelming, be aware that there are supports available for you. These include emergency text lines (741-741, www.crisistextline.org) and chatting with someone over the phone (1-800-273-8255, www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org).
Your CUNE Counseling Center wishes you peace and rest this winter as we celebrate the greatest gift given to us in Jesus. Merry Christmas!