If you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed by an upcoming visit with your family, here are 12 simple ways to manage that stress. Whether you are taking two weeks to spend time with your family, or whether you are spending a day with the in-laws, use these tips to manage your mood. Many of the tips outlined below take less than 2 minutes to use and can easily be woven into your holiday. Mix and match your favorites.
1) Essential Oils – Simple smells can quickly change your mood. Essential oils dabbed on the wrists or on the temples are quickly integrated into the bloodstream. Peppermint is useful for headaches, mental blocks and is great pick-me up for fatigue. Orange is helpful for uplifting moods. Essential oils are small and are easy to pack. Keep a small travel pack with you on the plane or in the car. Essential oils can be the perfect remedy before a good night’s sleep.
2) Hydration – Even mild dehydration can affect one’s mood, energy level and the ability to think clearly. While traveling you may lean towards not to drinking water, especially if you are expecting a long flight or long car drive. With all the holiday gatherings how much water are you drinking? If you notice yourself becoming crabby grab a glass of water, or two. Start your morning with a glass of water. Hydrate.
3) Elimination – This time of year we are eating all sorts of food that we normally do not eat. This is okay! It is good to feed the soul as well as the body. Indigestion and constipation can have a terrible effect on our mood. If you experience indigestion or constipation from your food choices here is a simple trick to get things moving. Two large glasses of warm water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything will help move things along. Also one or two green drinks from your local grocery store will help keep the digestive system moving this holiday season. Grab a green drink while snacking.
4) Herbal teas – Pack your favorite teas for your trip. If you know that tea has a calming effect for you, pack a few of your favorites. Chamomile tea about ½ – 1 hour before you plan on going to sleep can help reduce inflammation in your stomach, and possibly balance out the acidity levels as well. It also does wonders for relieving stress, which can trigger acid reflux, and will help you sleep through the night as well.
5) Eye mask – If you are staying at a relative’s home it may take a bit for your body to relax. I live in a large urban area and my family lives in a rural area. The first night back is a major adjustment for my body. An eye mask (I recommend one with the puffy eye pillows) will help your eyes relax into the sockets. When you eyes drop and relax into the eye sockets this quiets the mind. An eye mask is great for the times where you have no control over the amount of natural light where you sleep or if you share a room with another.
6) Ear plugs – Our body has become used to the sounds around us. On a long flight it is easy to be distracted by loud conversations around you. Ear plugs can muffle the sounds. Much like the eye mask, ear plugs can make the difference when you sleep. If you sleep late and your family are early risers…or if you go to bed early and your family goes to bed late, grab your ear plugs and get a good night’s sleep. It may make the difference if you are sharing a room with a loved one that tosses in their sleep, talks in their sleep or snores.
7) Music – Pack your favorite tunes for your holiday trip. Choose a selection of tracks the lift and pick you up. Pick music that relaxes you and mellows the mind. Music can restore energy, elevate your mood and can help relax the body. Listen to your favorite songs first thing in the morning or right before bed to set the tone of your day.
8) Your favorite inspirational book – A light inspirational book can offer a new perspective. Are you being challenged by family members? Are they repeatedly asking about your relationship status, your work status, your weight, your kids? It is easy to become triggered with certain conversations or questions. This is true if you are visiting your family and a good meaning aunt and uncle happens to ask you “how’s work?” Little do they know this is the twentieth time someone has asked you this question and in the back of your mind you know that work is stressful. Choose a collection of quotes that can keep you grounded and in perspective. Remember most of the time your relatives mean well and care. Much like music a good quote can set the tone for the day.
9) Meditation on the breath – 2 minutes in the morning, 2 minutes in the evening quietly meditating on the breath physically relaxes the body and quiets the mind. A simple practice where you tell yourself “I breath in…I breath out” with the attention only on the breath can quickly change the stress and anxiety you feel in your body. Meditation on the breath is a technique you can use in the car, sitting at the dinner table, or while sitting on the coach. Invite some mindfulness into your holiday.
10) Movement – It’s cold. It is rainy. You look out the window and the gray of the morning has you head for the covers vs diving for your yoga pants. Tis the season for more rest and 5 to 20 minutes of movement a day is great for joint health. The more exercise you get the better it is for your body, your mood, and energy. Don’t wait until January 1st to begin your exercise regime. Take 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes to move your body. Lift your arms to stretch. Take a 10 minute walk with a niece or a nephew. Schedule a yoga class or dance class just for you. Mark it in the schedule ahead of time. Invite a friend.
11) Journal – Need to let off steam? Grab your journal and let your mind free flow whatever is on your mind. It can be challenging to find the time to squeeze this in. First thing in the morning or toward the end of the evening is a great place to give mind chatter space. Most people experience the ‘monkey mind.’ Don’t believe everything you think. Don’t keep it bottled up either. After you finish free flowing your thoughts in your journal, take a breath, at the end of page write THANK YOU. The more we suppress our thoughts the more they boil on the inside like a tea kettle. Acknowledge that subconscious part of you that may feel crabby.
12) Gratitude – Finish your day writing down 3 things that you are grateful for in the day. Maybe it was having a slice of your favorite pie. Maybe it was the sleep. Look for the good in your day. Do this right before bed. As you drift off to sleep gratitude becomes part of your subconscious. What we focus on before we sleep has a huge affect on how we feel first thing in the morning and the dreams we have at night.
We have more control than we think over our stress level and how we manage it. Most of these tips can be done first thing in the morning or in the evening. Prep for your holiday! If you find yourself anxious, stressed, or angry, pull out this list and try something new.