Stressed? Here’s the Complete Holiday Stress Toolkit

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Don’t let the holidays kill your joy. Make them awesome. Here’s some help.

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Your Stress Tool Belt


Resources from the Skillshare Class

First lecture (65 min)
Q&A Session (30 min)
Five-Part Blog Series on Beating Holiday Stress

Jeff’s Favorite Tools

Gratitude Journal. Make a list of things you’re grateful for daily. Try to list 3-5 things. I personally like this iPhone app ($.99) #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Exercise Creatively. Getting exercise is key to staying healthy mentally, physically and spiritually. You don’t have to go to the gym to work out. Start a snowball fight, take a dog for a walk or offer to help bring chairs up from downstairs. #body #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Sleep Better.  The holidays are a great time to catch up on sleep. It’s not just about quantity, though. For better sleep, try limiting caffeine and alcohol as well as avoiding exercise, tv and eating before bed. #body #mind (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Drink Water. This is always a good idea. It’s hard to remember to drink enough water when we’re celebrating the holidays. Buy a water bottle and take it with you everywhere. Keep it full and close-at-hand and you’ll have no problem staying hydrated. #body #mind (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Love Your Stomach. It’s easy to punish your stomach with so much “good” food that’s so bad for you. Don’t beat yourself up for indulging. Instead, drink more water, eat a big, healthy breakfast and try to sneak in some fruits and vegetables with every meal. #body #mind (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Do Some Good (Random Acts of Kindness). I can’t think of a better way to get into the spirit of the holidays and to get out of a funk than to do something kind for someone else. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, read to kids, hold the door open for someone or pay for another customers groceries. Don’t ask for thanks in return. Do it just to do it. #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Centering. Whether you’ve got half an hour or thirty seconds, centering is a great way to calm your mind and help you relax. Use it after you ring the door bell until the in-laws open the front door. Step away and use it when you get upset. Use it when you need to recharge at work. Here’s the direct link to the centering exercise from class (video starts playing automagically). #mind #spirit

A Bunch More Ideas

See Ashley J’s Project for some clever and funny ideas #body #mind #spirit

Learn how to deal with Button Pushers (Direct link to button pushers section of video. It starts playing automatically.) #spirit

Let go of expectations (Direct link to Expectations section of video. It starts playing automatically.) #spirit

Meditate #mind #spirit (Here’s a great Youtube Tutorial on meditation if you’ve never tried it before.)

Yoga (If you haven’t tried it, take a free class today. This is too good to miss. Yoga leaves me feeling centered, calm, rejuvenated, at peace, warm, connected and happy. Yoga is not just for the ladies. Man up and feel awesome.) #body #mind #spirit

Laugh More (In one scientific study of happiness, this video proved to make people the happiest) #body #mind #spirit

Learn to Say No #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Take Mini Breaks to Recharge #body #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Visualization #mind #spirit (Read the short article on using visualization to prepare for success. Hear Jeff talk about this)

Turn Off Technology #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Cut Yourself Some Slack #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Connect with People You Love (Family or Not. If spending time with family is stressful, make sure to carve out some time for friends you feel totally at ease with. Far away? Use Skype or Google Hangout. Though nothing beats picking up the phone and actually calling them.) #spirit

Stop with the Assumptions (We all have a bunch of assumptions about other people and the holidays we’ve collected over the years. Challenge those assumptions this year. Talk to your family about traditions and expectations for the holidays. You might be blown away by how your assumptions are killing your chances of a relaxing holiday.) #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Pick Your Battles (When Uncle Rico makes an offensive comment, ask yourself if now is the right time to respond. Consider approaching him in private to tell him why his remarks hurt you. That said, don’t be afraid to stand up for the things that truly matter. Remember that in the end, you can almost always find common ground. That’s even more important during the holidays with family.) #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Pray (Have someone to pray to? Now might be a good time to do more of that kind of thing.) #spirit

Be Honest & Vulnerable (This has to be the best way to deepen relationships any time of year. Instead of gloating about business successes, real or imagined, try being more open and honest about the good, the bad and the ugly – in business and in life. You might be surprised by the response.) #spirit #mind (see Brene Brown’s solid Ted Talk on vulnerability)

Watch Christmas Movies #spirit (my favorite is Elf, with Will Ferrell).

Beating Holiday Stress: Part 5

Do what your uncle says and take ownership of your holidays.

Take Ownership of Your Holidays

I’ve had some frustrating experiences during the holidays. I’ve put my foot in my mouth. I’ve had to suffer through church programs I really didn’t want to attend and generally do things I wasn’t in the mood for. Then there is the completely demoralizing and exhausting exercise of trying to decide if the “adult kids” should give each other gifts or just draw names. If you don’t know what I’m talk about, just be grateful.

I don’t know what it is about the holidays. Maybe it’s because we often spend time with our parents. Maybe we’re just completely overloaded. For some reason, it always seems easier to feel like the victim or like we don’t have any say. We go along with what other people want to do, begrudgingly, of course. We put up with something, then complain for a day. After all, everyone else is out to ruin what could have been a perfect holiday for us.

Hey, it’s easier to blame everyone else. But it feels terrible. Instead, take ownership of your holidays. Want to do something different this year? Recruit a couple of people to do it with you. Really don’t like one of your traditions? Speak up. Maybe nobody else does either, they just thought you loved it. You might be surprised.

The bottom line is you always have a choice. The next time you start to feel like you “have to” do something, ask yourself, “what are my options?” They won’t always be great. And if your only alternative to going shopping is jumping out of a moving vehicle, I suggest you just go shopping. But it’s still a choice.

As you live more consciously this season, remember to be extra kind to those who are feeling like the holidays are happening to them. They’re not usually jerks. They’re just not usually this stressed out.

This is the final post in the “Beating Holiday Stress” series. In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at The class starts tonight, Dec. 3, 2012! Register Now.

Beating Holiday Stress: Part 4

Setting a Powerful Intention

Does Christmas make you feel like the pug in the picture? Don’t feel like that pug. Instead, set a powerful intention to make this holiday season exactly what you want it to be. First, though, we’ve got to talk about expectations.

The holidays are stressful for a bunch of reasons, but the main one is that we have crazy-high expectations. We also take on the expectations of others (for example, what does your mother think you should be doing this year?). What are your expectations for Christmas this year? For yourself? Are they realistic? What are your expectations about? Food, friends, presents, emotions? How would you feel if things don’t turn out like you want them to?

As wedding entrepreneurs, you work weddings. You know that things never go (exactly) as planned. So how can you set yourself up to have a great month no matter what? Well, you can start by setting a powerful intention for yourself.

As a life coach, I help clients set powerful intentions and I know they can make a huge difference. Let’s set one now:

What is your intention for the holidays this year?

There’s no wrong or right answer, but it is important that you focus on something you can control. Unmet expectations make us sad. If we expect things to happen that we can’t control, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. But there is a ton we can control. For example, my intention this year is to embody the spirit of the holidays. To be generous, to laugh easily and to give off a warmth that draws others to me. That’s a lot. Your intention could be to have fun with family. *Note: Always set intentions in the positive (not negative). Psychological studies show that your brain has trouble telling the difference between “I don’t want to get fat” and “I want to get fat.”

Your thoughts largely control your reality. Do you know anyone who is negative all of the time and bad stuff just keeps on happening to her? Intentions work the same way. The point is that you already have intentions for the holidays (“I will not eat all the cookies”), you maybe just haven’t thought about them much. Take control, decide for yourself what your intentions will be.

Picking an intention isn’t enough. At least that never works for me. Write down your intention somewhere you’ll see it every day. Or write it again every day. Or record yourself saying it and listen to it before you go to bed each night. Or say it out loud when you wake up. It takes just seconds, but it’s the difference between living your intention and completely forgetting about it (and spending another December stressed out and exhausted).

How will you remind yourself of your intention every day?

This post is part four of a five part series called “Beating Holiday Stress.” In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at The class starts Dec. 3, 2012. Sign up here.

Beating Holiday Stress: Part 3

audre lordeCreate a Self-Care Plan

Okay, you’re starting to feel better about the holidays. You’ve assessed your button pushers and added some tools to your stress-busting toolbelt. If you’re anything like me, the second you get into holiday season, all of that goes out the window and you’re back in survivor mode: frazzled, hunting for last-minute gifts and beating back other target shoppers with your plastic basket. Don’t fall back into the holiday-stress vortex. This year, you and I are going to have a plan. And we’re going to stick to it.

Assess your button pushers. If you missed this post, read up here. Knowing what causes you stress this season will help you figure out how to beat that stress. Take an honest look at which people, places, pets and times cause you the most stress. Decide not to let them drive you nuts this year.

Match your stressors up with your tools. Part 2 of this series was all about creating your own tool belt. What can you do to prevent a meltdown at dinner? How can you ensure a good time (for yourself and others) around the fire this year? For each of your button-pushers, figure out the best tool. Make a list (no need to check it twice).
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How to Beat Holiday Stress: Part 2

20121123-004105.jpgBuilding Your Stress-Busting Tool Belt

As much as I love the holidays, they often bring a bunch of unwanted stress into my life. In Part One, we did some self-reflection on our button-pushers. Today, we’re assembling our stress-busting tool belts (don’t be caught without yours) on how to beat holiday stress. You don’t have to do everything on the list, just find your favorites. Let’s dive in!

Use visualization. Great professional athletes use this technique to make them even better. Try visualizing yourself in a situation that normally stresses you out. Instead of getting stressed, visualize yourself responding calmly and even having fun. Rehearse often for the biggest benefit.

Get super creative with exercise. I think one reason we stress during the holidays is that we stop doing things that are good for us. Working out isn’t just good for your waistline, it’s essential for your mental well-being. If it’s not realistic to hit the gym while you’re out of town for a week, get creative and find new ways to get exercise. Start a snowball fight, take a dog for a walk or offer to help bring chairs from downstairs.

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How to Beat Holiday Stress: Part 1

Know Your Button-Pushers

The holidays can be absolutely wonderful. Strangers showing kindness. Meals shared among family and friends. Drunk co-workers embarrassing themselves at the company holiday party.

But remember that lady that pepper-sprayed another Walmart customer on Black Friday in 2011? Yeah, that was crazy. Somebody pushed her buttons and she snapped. Here are some questions for you to consider so you don’t wind up in the slammer for assault-by-condiment:

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