Susan Albers Psy.D.

Comfort Cravings

4 Simple Tips for Minimizing Holiday Stress, Worry & Anxiety

The 4 M's of Mindfully Coping With Holiday Stress

Posted Dec 16, 2015

Source: istock

Here are four simple suggestions for making the holidays a little less stressful.  Follow these M's.

Move Mindfully:  Do at least 5 minutes of movement each day —walking, stretching, sled riding, singing. The good news--shopping at the mall counts too.  To make it mindful, tune in.  Notice the sound of your feet hitting the floor, your side stretching, how your muscles relax etc.  This simple action helps to boost serotonin, the feel good chemical of the brain.

Mindful eating:  Savor your favorite holiday foods mindfully.  Eat slowly.  A great way to get out of autopilot eating is to eat with your non-dominant hand.  If you are right handed, eat with your left hand.  This is going to help you slow down while eating food--whether it is pumpkin pie or sugar cookies.  Research indicates that this simple action can reduce how much you eat by 30%.

Minimize Mindfully:  Reduce your stress level by keeping things simple.  Choosing a gift that matches someone's personality is more powerful than buying many.  Before purchasing anything, sit down.  Close your eyes.  Ask yourself, what makes X (friend, parent, child), special and unique?  The answer often is a key to the gift. If you say, "they are musically talented," perhaps purchase something that supports this talent.  Whenever holiday stress arises, ask yourself, "What fills the basic, minimum requirements of this situation?"

Mellow:   A candle is great for helping you to calm down, work through anxiety and stay focused.  Choose a candle with a holiday scent (evergreen tree, cinnamon, sugar cookie).  Place all of your attention on watching the flame and let go of whatever is troubling you.  Breathe in the holiday scent.  Imagine exhaling all the toxic thoughts and stress.  Slow down your fight or flight response with this simple action.

When you get up in the morning and your feet hit the floor ask yourself, "How will I use the 4 M's today."  Wishing you a merry, mindful holiday!

For more tips on coping with stress, see Dr. Albers new #1 best-selling book, 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food

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