At Prosperity Candle, we are constantly searching for new ways to help our friends and customers (okay, and ourselves!) to relax and unwind. With the holiday season approaching, there’s a whole lot of joy and merriment around the corner . . . but additional stresses, too! Our to-do lists seem never ending and the season always has a surprise or two in store (an newly-instituted end of year report at work, an unexpected holiday guest at home . . .).
Sometimes we all need to take a breath and remember to celebrate what the holidays are all about: joy, genuine connections with family and friends, beautiful moments to cherish (if only we could unwind a bit).
If you’re feeling stressed this fall and need to get your mind back on track, here are 5 often overlooked ways to keep focused, disconnect from stress, and unwind during the holiday season.
Keep a journal
Keeping a journal is an excellent way to take a step back from your life, get your thoughts in order and clear your mind for a moment. A cluttered and hectic life will suddenly seem much more manageable once you’ve got it all down on paper.
While it’s easy to keep a journal on your laptop, or even on your phone or tablet, we really recommend buying a notebook and writing out your thoughts by hand. It doesn’t have to be fancy (although there are plenty of fun options out there). Maybe it’s because we so often associate typing with working, but letting your feelings flow through a pen and onto paper will often relax you in a way that typing doesn’t.
Journal in the morning:
Author Julia Cameron recommends that you start every morning with what she calls “Morning Pages”. Morning pages is a free flowing writing activity where you aim to cover three pages with whatever is on your mind first thing in the morning (before you shower, eat breakfast, or even get out of bed). Here’s Julia to tell you more:
Journal in the evening:
Psychology Today totes having a “gratitude journal” as one of the best ways to counteract the negative feelings we may have about current stressful situations in our lives. At the end of the day, while you’re in bed (but before trying to get to sleep, obviously), make a quick list of all of the wonderful things in your life. No matter how minor something may seem, add it to the list. So many of us toss and turn, restless over thinking the worries in our lives, but few of us take the time to recognize the good. Listing the things that make your life amazing will help you relax, get more sleep and wake up ready to attack the day.
Captivate your sense of smell
Your sense of smell has an effect on our moods that’s more intense than any of our other senses. Scents can instantly trigger a memory that transports us to another place and time. The smell of fresh-baked cookies brings our mind back to grandma’s house, the scent of cologne or perfume on the elevator can put us back in the arms of our high school sweetheart, and, naturally, all of the smells of Christmas get us ready for the holidays.
When it comes to managing holiday stress, many experts recommend the scent of lavender (it helps relax you) or peppermint (it sharpens your senses). Our own Lavender and Citron fragrance was designed to aid in relaxation. For more aromatherapy tips, The Huffington Post also offers “11 Scents That Can Do Wonders for Your Well Being”.
Indulge your sense of smell by burning a scented candle at your desk, or take a moment for yourself by bathing with scented soaps or oils. If burning a candle in the office or taking time out for a luxurious bath isn’t an option, something as simple as a delicious smelling hand lotion can give you a mid day boost that will translate to a happier and more relaxed afternoon.
A stress-filled life leads to eating lots of foods that our bodies don’t want us to be eating. We all know the feeling of eating a burger in the car or day-old pizza standing over the sink . . . not to mention the way it makes us feel an hour later. According to the PCRM (Physicians Council for Responsible Medicine), traditional “comfort foods” actually add to our stress levels, while healthier foods not only boost our energy, but may actually lower our stress levels as well.
Eating well means homecooking, sitting down at the table, and actually enjoying what you’re eating. When taking the time to prepare a slow cooked meal isn’t an option, sites like All Recipes offer dozens of quick and easy meals, while services like Blue Apron will do the shopping and recipe planning for you.
Most importantly, make dinnertime a peaceful event. Eat in a place where you are comfortable (not in front of the TV), and take a moment to enjoy your food, maybe even with a glass of wine. Dinnertime should be a time to take a breath and reflect on your day; not something you do standing up.
Cleanse your body
While we may not all have time for a hot shower in the middle of the day, a brief moment of cleansing can do wonders to reset your mood and prepare you to face whatever is on your schedule. When you’re feeling stressed, take a moment to step away from your desk and head to the restroom to wash your face, brush your teeth, and take a deep breath or two.
Kim Williamson of HowStuffWorks.com reports that clean teeth have been linked to improved cognitive function, weightloss, even improved sexual performance. Performing a quick cleansing routine will get your feeling refreshed and trick your brain into waking up a bit, without the help of a large coffee that will send your mind and heart racing.
When you get home after a long day, take the time to shower or wash off your makeup as soon as you get home. Don’t wait until just before bed. Dr. Michael Breus, better known as “The Sleep Doctor”, recommends a hot bath before bed to calm both your muscles and your mind. Leave the dirt (and stress) of the day behind and cleanse yourself before heading into your evening routine.
Leverage the past & future for a calmer mindset
This one works especially well for moms, but it can benefit us all to take a moment to cherish past memories.
When you’re feeling especially stressed, open up an old photo album or yearbook and take a stroll down memory lane. Looking at old photographs, especially of holidays past, can take you away from the day-to-day stresses that you’re currently facing. Seeing old friends and family members around the holiday dinner table will remind you of what’s really important this time of year and help your balance the stress you feel about that holiday to-do list.
On the other hand, sometimes the best way to reframe a stressful situation is to document the insanity. Did the cat knock over the Christmas tree? Did the kids create a Hanukkah work of art . . . on your freshly painted walls? Before losing your mind, take a few pictures and laugh about what it will be like to show them to your friends, or your kids’ friends when they get older.
As time passes, many stressful situations become funny stories. Don’t let the chance to laugh later (laughing really is good for you, too) pass you by.
What are some of the ways you’ll be managing holiday stress this season? Let us know in the comments below.