Six ways to manage social anxiety

Six-ways-to-manage-social-anxiety

It’s the thumping heart, the sweaty palms, and the seeming inability to communicate verbally to the person across from you.

It’s the fear that everyone is silently judging you, and if you make eye contact with them something disastrous could happen.

And it’s the isolation you feel it an overwhelmingly crowded place, when the smallest task takes all your energy to complete.

Social anxiety is a beast. Some of us experience it momentarily, like on the first day of a new job, when we enter a uber-competitive environment or see colleagues in an unexpected place. Other people experience it all the time, and a ‘simple’ activity like shopping or going out to dinner nearly feel unbearable.

As someone who still deals with social anxiety, I know what it’s like to freak out over the simplest tasks. And even though I’ve combatted a lot of my (somewhat irrational) fears over the years, I still panic when I encounter a new situation, I’ve just learned to mask it a lot better.

If you also struggle with social anxiety, here are six ways you can begin to manage it.

  1. Realise it’s normal

Feeling anxious about a situation you think ‘normal people’ are fine with only makes your fear escalate. While not everyone experiences social anxiety, we all feel some sort of awkwardness. Remember that you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable around people. In fact, there are probably others around you at this moment experiencing a similar level of anxiety, you just can’t tell because most of us laugh it off or hide it.

  1. Pre-plan

I’m a terrible decision maker at the best of times, and when I’m in an uncomfortable situation my inability to choose between chai tea and a mocha latte becomes impossible. So when possible, plan where you’re going and what you’ll do there.

If you’re going to an event, make a time to meet up with a friend so you’re not left on your own. If being in a crowded space troubles you, go at a less-busy time, and if talking to a cashier freaks you out, have your money set aside for them before you approach the counter. These are only small steps, but they can help you to avoid an anxiety attack.

  1. Let a friend know

If you struggle in a particular situation, don’t be ashamed to let someone know. A loved one, partner, spouse or friend will likely have already picked up that you’re uncomfortable in some situations, and telling them you have social anxiety will help them to connect the dots.

You can’t always avoid anxiety, but having someone around who understands what you’re experiencing makes a world of difference. Tell them what you need to feel calm, and let them help you to plan for and work through each situation.

  1. Write down your fears

When you’re anxious about something, you might role-play different scenarios in your head until you’re so afraid you decide not to complete the task. It’s important that you consider the event or situation you are entering, but catastrophising about what may occur if you see x or what could happen if you say x, only heightens your emotions.

Before you enter an anxiety-provoking scenario, write down your fears, hopes and expectations around the event. For each fear or problem, write down a possible solution. You may find that just by writing it down, you take away its power and feel more empowered.

Go back over the list when the event is complete, and see what actually occurred. Over time, you’ll begin to control your fear when you realise more often than not, scenarios aren’t as bad as they seem.

  1. Set a time frame

My anxiety is always worse when I am tired and stressed, and I know it’s time to go home when I become unresponsive or irritable. Over time, you’ll learn the physical and mental symptoms you show when you’ve had enough and this will be a sign that you need to have some alone time.

How intense the environment is, the level of social interaction you’ve had and how long you’re out will affect this, so set a time frame for each situation and give yourself permission to leave when its done so you can care for yourself.

  1. See a professional

If your social anxiety is all consuming and you struggle to leave the house, make a phone call or see people, then seeing a counsellor or psychologist is a great first step to managing it.

Lots of places allow you to research therapists online, and some even let you book over the Internet. Ask a friend to drive you to the appointment, and if this feels like too much, ask the therapist if you can connect over Skype or email instead.

It takes time to overcome social anxiety, and for some people (myself included), it becomes a process of learning to manage it. Wherever you’re at, know you’re not alone in these emotions. You can navigate them and with a bit of support, learn to live a happy and healthy life. It just starts with asking for help.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? Would you like some help overcoming your fears? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

Five signs of healthy community

Five-signs-of-healthy-community

‘Community’ is a buzz word at the moment, but what does it really mean? Another word for it is ‘connection’—how we connect with other people, and how this connects us with the world. Brené Brown has said, “Connection is why we're here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

So while ‘community’ and in essence, connection, is on trend (and could easily be long forgotten if ‘fleek’ makes a come back), it has always been an essential part of our wellbeing because it helps us to formulate our identity.

If you consider every group you have been a part, be it a family, work place, a group of friends or a sports club, you can trace the impact it’s had on your identity. Positive or negative, community gives us meaning and helps us to find direction in life.

From the extrovert who is never alone to the recluse who avoids people at any cost, our behaviour directly relates to our past experiences of community. And after trust is broken or we experience a crisis in our lives, we begin to question the true nature of the community we belong to.

Is it healthy?

Is this community harming me?

Do I even want to belong to this community?

And, can I make my community healthy?

Even though these questions can be confronting, they are vital to nurture your wellbeing. Answering them begins with understanding what a healthy community actually looks like. Here are five signs your community is a nurturing and healthy environment.

  1. It is authentic

If ‘community’ is a buzzword, then ‘authentic’ is it’ cousin. Healthy community doesn’t take place without a group of people committed to being fearlessly authentic and vulnerable. That means there are no hidden agendas, people don’t feel they have to lie or make excuses, people feel free to talk about their ups and downs, and acceptance is shown for one another, whatever a member of that community is going through.

Authentic community is challenging, and even the healthiest will have to continuously work at it. However, a good indicator you’ve found this is when you walk away feeling validated, known and understood.

  1. It is inclusive

Forget these exclusive cliques that are created at high school and roll into adult hood, a thriving community is known for welcoming others in to its fold. So while a community is formed on common interests or relationship, it is built on different personalities, ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual preferences and religions.

Each community group will naturally skew towards a certain type of people depending on where it is located and other environmental factors, but it’s willingness to accept all others is what makes it healthy.

  1. It is outward focused

A healthy community will nurture its members. Often, this occurs through group outings, activities and celebrations. However, those that thrive take this a step further and empower its members to be outward focused.

This means members are so energised by their belonging to the group, they actively invite and inform outsiders about it. Political or religious group are the obvious examples of this—members will often tell other people about their ideals or activities and provide their point-of-view about key societal issues their group has a stance on.

However, this outward focus can also be subtler. A friend might invite you to a party and all their work colleagues are there. Someone just started a great new health program, and they talk about it all the time on social media and encourage you to join. Or they look for opportunities to support other communities to benefit the greater good.

A healthy community digs deep and nurtures one another so it can extend this same bond to the outside world. Find a community that does this, and you’re on to something good.

  1. Members accept one another

Acceptance is different to inclusion, because it involves actively doing life beside people who are different from you. It goes further than inclusion, because through it others are given a home and we invest in each other.

Accepting people in your community is easy when we are like-minded. Many of us will feel a kinship with other members because of a common bond and interest. However, when we disagree about things—be it politics, religion, how to raise children or another member’s actions, things can fall apart very easily.

A healthy community is willing to listen and learn from one another, even when members disagree on things. Instead of taking offence, they respond with empathy and love.

  1. It supports members and keeps them accountable

Seeing a family member on the holidays is well and good, but what happens when they come to you with no place to live? What do you say to your friend at the gym when their marriage has just broken down, and how do you respond when a friend wrongs another friend, seemingly against the principles your whole community is built on?

Healthy community isn’t easy, and we see this when its members make mistakes or are in crisis. When one person falls, a healthy community will do all they can to pick that member up, be it through a coffee, a frozen meal or a roof over their head.

This is complicated when a member has actively broken your trust—for instance, by cheating on their partner, using all their money to fund an addiction or manipulating a friend. There is no one solution to this scenario. Some communities try to reconcile its members, others separate and many will ostracise that member until it’s clear they no longer ‘belong’.

A healthy community will do all it can to understand and empathise with the member who has ‘failed’ and help them to recover without compromising their values. However, they will also protect and support the people the member has directly affected.

Ideally, a healthy community will see the warning signs that a member is struggling or beginning to compromise their principles, and help that person get back on track before anything major happens. This is why accountability is essential to a healthy community—it not only helps members to reach their goals, it also keeps them from falling.

Do you want to find a healthy community? Would you like to learn how to better connect with other people? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How to have a positive mindset

How-to-have-a-positive-mindset

It’s easy to pour compliments on other people, but showing love to ourselves is another challenge entirely. Often we see ourselves negatively, and critically compare our ‘weaknesses’ and ‘flaws’ to the so-called perfections of the people around us.

The truth is though, that we are worthy of love. In fact, we are just as deserving as the person we perceive to have it all-together, who in reality, is probably also self-conscious too. So how do we start showing ourselves love?

By changing our mindset. In this infographic by Simply Stepping, we are given a list of common complaints we have about ourselves.

“I can’t do any better!”

”I’m so fat.”

“I look stupid.”

Does this sound familiar to you? By challenging these thoughts and reframing them to something more positive, we slowly change our mindset to one of self-love and infinite worth.

So next time you think, “I’m not as good looking as them, no one could ever love me,” grab the thought and change it to, “When I compare myself with others I waste my precious time and energy. My beauty is defined within, and the people that matter love me for me.”

Take a look at the infographic and see what negative mindsets you can change this week. Start with one and see how you go. Overtime, you’ll begin to believe what you’re saying, and will be made stronger by your own self-love.

How-to-have-a-positive-mindset---kindness-talk

Do you often criticize yourself? Would you like to develop a positive mindset? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Eight strategies for daily resilience

Eight-strategies-for-daily-resilience

Resilience, the ability to ‘bounce back’, is essential to our health, happiness and well being. However, it can be eroded when we become overwhelmed by the unpredictable events that intrude into our lives.

Where the crisis is short lived and/or we find the resources to contain it and find a solution, people typically recover their resilience. Along the way, we learn vital lessons about our competence and resourcefulness. But how do we survive the events that are beyond our control?

Remaining resilient in an increasingly unpredictable and chaotic world is a challenge for all of us. The answer lies in your daily determination to be intentional about cultivating a positive, and therefore more resilient, state of mind. Here are eight strategies that when practiced consistently, will help you to build resilience.

  1. Limit your use of social media and news

Social media and other news outlets are often an unrelenting source of bad news, yet we find them addictive to consume. We have a constant need to know what is ‘happening next,’ and find ourselves going back to the next source for more information.

Our fascination and curiosity makes us a prisoner to the latest news, which can elevate our anxiety. Setting a time limit on how long to use social media and read the news will diminish the impact this has on your resilience.

  1. Stretch each day

Anxiety and stress are stored in our body—tightening muscles, headaches, nausea, stomach aches, diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion can all be side effects of this.

If you have a dog or cat, you will have noticed how often they do a long, deep stretch. Animals instinctively know what we so often fail to acknowledge—that a long stretch keeps the body limber and helps our blood to circulate efficiently, reversing the effects of stress on the body.

Whether you choose to do yoga, Pilates or your own set of stretches, the important thing is to keep stretching daily to prevent stress shutting down your body.

  1. Focus on the positive

At the beginning of each day, take five minutes to intentionally focus your mind towards seeking out the positive. Still be level headed, aware of conflicting and difficult experiences, but choose to take a positive outlook, learning to acknowledge how you feel without letting it move in and set up house.

Refocus your mind on the positive even if you aren’t feeling it. After all, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it!

  1. Pay attention to nature

Nature is a natural stress-reducer, so take the time to absorb colour, pattern, movement and whatever catches your eye. If you live and work in a concrete jungle, look at the sky and observe cloud formations, or an isolated tree or plant. Take the time to breathe in its life giving energy and recognise how it makes you feel.

  1. Repeat a positive affirmation

By choosing a positive affirmation like, ‘I am worthy,’ or ‘I will have a good day,’ and repeating this to yourself through the day, your mind will begin to believe it.  You may not be convinced of the truth of the affirmation immediately, but after awhile it will become second nature to you and build your resilience.

  1. Expect to be surprised

Surprises come to us every day, but we often fail to notice or fully appreciate them. They bring delight, happiness and remind us that we are not alone. Make a point each morning to anticipate a surprise in your day—you may be surprised about what you notice!

  1. Smile a lot

Have you noticed how you feel when someone smiles at you? We feel warmer, less fearful and anxious, and welcomed. On the other hand, a frown sends the message that we are intrusive, irritating or unwelcome. We feel lighter when we smile and also extend this happiness to others by inviting them to smile back.

  1. Make a Grateful Journal

Write what you are grateful for at the end of each day in a journal, and your resilience will increase. Grateful people are happier and easier to be around. By expressing your gratitude, you focus on what is good and positive in your life. This will only take a couple of minutes each day, and it will reduce your stress and create a positive mindset.

Which of these suggestions do you want to implement? Start each week with one, try something different each day, or commit yourself to trying one. Comment below to let us know what you are doing to build your personal resilience.

Are you stressed and worn out? Would you like to build your resilience? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

5 ways to manage your emotions

Are you out-of-touch with your emotions? Or do you feel a little too much, and consequently carry the world on your shoulders? Everyone has a different level of natural empathy and emotional intuitiveness, but we all need some help to regulate our emotions—whether we are aware of them or not.

Science can help us to normalise our natural emotional responses, and make them healthier. The team at Real Way of Life are frequently asked about modern science and how it can be applied to the management of emotional problems. They’ve put together this handy infographic, explaining how five key points can guide us in caring for our own emotional health.

  1. Two ways of activation: Whether we naturally respond to things by thinking them through, or acting them out. This leads to our emotional response.
  2. Modalities: Our tendency to immerse ourselves in sociality, or live in a fight, flight or freeze manner.
  3. Emotional triggers: What causes our emotions and corresponding actions.
  4. Physiology: The effect of constant stress on the body, our genetic code, how we internally respond to stimuli (e.g. exercise)
  5. Multilevel action: Understanding that different factors influence our emotional health and managing each accordingly. (e.g. Biological make up, relationships, social tendencies, diet and health, neurological factors).

Developed through their years of experience and research, each point shows the spectrum of emotional tendencies, physiological responses and factors that influence and trigger our emotions.

Take a look at the infographic below, and consider where you fall on the scale of empathy and response. If you find yourself resonating with one in particular, do some more research, and try adjusting your mindset or behaviour to better moderate your emotions.

Do you want to learn to regulate your emotions? Would you like help to adjust your mindset and behaviours? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

10 reasons you’re becoming burnt out

Burn out. Two words no one wants to hear but we all must succumb too eventually. Anyone who has been burnt out will tell you it occurs when you’re at the end of your rope. Your body is exhausted, your mind is exhausted, and you’re entire being refuses to get up and function. At its best we break down and it takes us out of work for a few weeks. At its worse, burn out is totally debilitating, and can cause long-term of permanent illness.

Are you becoming burnt out? Take a look at our checklist, and if you tick the box on three or more of the following indicators, you could be headed towards burn out. That means one thing: you need to stop and rest.

  1. You feel constant lethargy

If once-enjoyable activities have become chores, waking up has become an ordeal, and you just feel ‘bleh,’ you could on the road to burn out. Our bodies will often shown signs of exhaustion before we accept the reality of it ourselves. Lethargy can occur for a number of reasons, so see your GP for a diagnosis.

  1. You refuse to stop

If your schedule is full, you never take a sick day, and you’re always focused on the next thing you ‘have’ to do, your body will eventually stop functioning in protest. Start setting aside time for you, and don’t be afraid to create space in your day when you have nothing to do.

  1. You always say ‘yes’

It’s great to help out our friends and family, and wonderful to do the things we love. But if you feel pressure to say ‘yes’ every time someone asks for a favour, you’re on a one-way street to burn out. Remember, saying ‘no’ to something can mean a bigger ‘yes’ to others—including yourself.

  1. You avoid seeing a professional

If you’ve put off seeing the GP or avoid seeing a counsellor or psychologist when you have the niggling feeling you need too, there’s a good chance you’re in denial about your body or mind’s condition. Ask a friend to help you make an appointment and keep it. You may just save yourself from extreme burn out.

  1. You experience anxiety or panic attacks

If you feel anxious about situations that never used to trouble you, live in a constant state of perpetual anxiety or have panic attacks, these are indicators that your body could be getting burnt out. If this is you, talk to a counsellor about your physical, emotional and mental well-being.

  1. You eat unhealthy foods

If meal preparation is a thing of the past and you live off fast food or frozen meals, you’re time poor and probably very stressed: two indicators you’re on your way to burn out. Start making healthy eating a priority again, and your body will start to heal.

  1. You struggle to exercise

It’s highly likely you’re an active person who is always on their feet, but if you struggle to set aside time to exercise, your body is suffering. Go running, sign up at the gym, play sport, do Pilates, try yoga or take the dog for a walk. Just set aside time three times a week to care for your body.

  1. You never see your loved ones

You may see your family every night and your friends at work, but if you haven’t spent time with them outside of these everyday scenarios in awhile, you could be too caught up in your schedule and routine—a potential route to burn out. Leisure time with the people we love is good for our emotional wellbeing, so make time for it.

  1. You’re constantly stressed

If you’re stressed about work, stressed about your relationships, stressed about your diet and stressed about feeling stressed—you’re close to burn out. A high heart rate, sweaty palms and tense muscles means your body is in fight or flight mode. This leads to frequent illness, muscle spasms and depression. Making time for meditation, a walk or a nap is a good way to start de-stressing your life.

  1. You have no time

If you’re feeling stressed about the time you need to make for self care, and tense up at the thought of re-arranging your schedule, there’s a good chance you’re close to burn out. It is difficult to stop, but it is harder to recover from burn out. And as capable as you may be, no one is exempt from it. So make the decision to stop and rest.

Are you becoming burnt out? Do you struggle to rest? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

12 ways to practice self awareness

12-ways-to-practice-self-awareness

Being self aware dramatically changes how we live. Understanding how we feel and why, what we are thinking, and how we are being perceived means we can facilitate better relationships privately and professionally.

Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, owner of the Golden State Warriors and best selling author, even said that self awareness is ‘the most important skill for career success’. So how do we become more self aware—especially when we’re scared about what we’ll find out?

Huffington Post and The Utopian Life put together this infographic, giving 12 steps to practice self awareness in your own life. Starting with asking yourself ‘why?’ every time to make a decision, to changing your posture, monitoring your self talk, being accountable, knowing your personality type and practicing meditation, try a couple of these practices this week and see what you learn about yourself.

12-essential-self-awareness-excercises

Do you want to become more self aware? Would you like to practice these exercises with the help of a professional? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Let’s leave 2016 behind

let-us-leave-2016-behind

After speaking to my friends and loved ones about this year, the general consensus is that 2016 was very…long. People have lost loved ones, battled with physical or mental illness, and have encountered new conflicts at home and work. With the addition of global and national crises and politics, it’s fair to say that a lot of us would like to leave 2016 behind.

We all hold out for the moment the clock hits midnight on January 1, hoping it will usher in a new season of hope, change, growth and beauty. But that doesn’t necessarily happen—especially when we hold on to old habits, relationships and beliefs that weigh us down.

To move on from 2016, we have to do more than scream and cheer at midnight. We need to make the decision that 2017 is going to be our year, no matter what we’re faced with. And that starts with being grateful for what went right this year.

Make a list of everything that went right this year. It may be short, but these moments reflect what to hold onto in the new year. Things like healthy relationships, going to counselling, taking up a new exercise regime or proactively dealing with conflict could all make the list.

From here, it’s time to make a list of everything that you want to leave in 2016. It could be illness, anxiety, an unhealthy or broken relationship, negative thought patterns, unhealthy eating habits, a broken heart, an abusive work place or fear of the future.

It’s one thing to list what you dislike about this year, it’s another to make sure you don’t carry this into 2017. So start at the top, and work your way down. Most, if not all of these issues will take a lot of work and you will see patterns re-emerging in the new year. However, once you’re aware of them, you have the power to change each situation.

Instead of resolving to change one thing in the new year, make a commitment to keep working on yourself over the 52 weeks to come. This could mean going to see a doctor and talking about strategies for managing your health. It may involve weekly date nights with your spouse, finding a new job, practicing mindfulness each day, or booking an appointment to see a counsellor.

2017 won’t be perfect, but it will be different to 2016 because you have made the choice to let go of the past and make significant changes in your life.

Happy new year friends. May 2017 be the most hope-filled year yet.

Do you want to leave 2016 behind? Would you like to create positive change in the new year? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

When the holidays aren’t the happiest time of the year

when-the-holidays-are-not-the-happiest-time-of-the-year

During the holidays, there’s an overwhelming sense that we should be happy. Christmas carols are sung, decorations are put up, family and friends reunite and people swap gifts. All of these activities can be wonderful, joyous things. But for many of us, they’re not—and that’s okay.

There are lots of reasons the holidays can be difficult, notably the fact that it feels like everyone expects you to be ‘happy’ and have the Christmas spirit.  But if we’re honest, that’s not always possible.

The holidays are a time when grief comes to the forefront. If we have lost a loved one, recently or in years past, we remember them all the more clearly when they’re not celebrating with us.

If a relationship has broken down with our spouse or significant other, Christmas can be an awkward time. We feel lonely, and disappointed that our life isn’t going the way we planned. If the relationship has affected children or extended family, this becomes even more paramount, as they try to maintain a congenial relationship with both parties.

Having to see an ex over the holidays, or feeling like you must ‘share’ your family with them makes the season fraught with tension.

If a loved one is experiencing a debilitating illness like dementia, depression or chronic fatigue, the need to care for them can take over any festive spirit we have. We wrestle with anxiety, frustration and anger, desperately trying to give them a wonderful Christmas experience at the expense of our own.

Or if we are ill, we are simply unable to join in the celebrations or enjoy them in any capacity. Whether we’re stuck at home, are in hospital, or are consumed by thoughts or feelings of anxiety, we feel isolated and lonely.

Throw in elements such as distance, monetary stress, estranged relationships with the family, trauma and work pressure, and this season can fall well short of the ‘happiest time of the year’ everyone boasts about.

So where does this leave those of us who don’t feel festive, but are expected to celebrate anyway?

It’s important you know it’s okay to feel broken this season. If you feel pressure to ‘get over it’ and your loved ones don’t understand your struggle, you don’t have to justify it to them. Recognise that your experience is just as valid as the friend who sings Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. Accept that your holiday season looks different to theirs, and know it’s okay.

When we accept our own brokenness and pain, we are able to work through it.

If you are grieving, use the holidays as a tribute to a loved one you miss. Visit their grave, or do their favourite activity in remembrance of them.

If you are heartbroken, allow yourself to cry, and then feel the love of your friends and family.

If your loved one is ill, give yourself permission to rest for a moment before you continue caring for them.

If conflict arises and there is no easy resolution, table the issue and give yourself permission to tackle it in the new year.

If you are alone, volunteer, attend a local church service, or a find a community group to belong to for the day.

If you are sick, love your mind and your body for what it does bring to Christmas Day—you. And despite the confines illness puts you in, give yourself permission to smile if you feel like it.

If the holidays are difficult time for you, tell a friend why. You don’t have to explain your feelings to the whole family or friendship group, but by opening up to a person you trust—someone who is empathetic and understands—you will find strength to get through the season.

If you find yourself in a crisis during the day, call a 24/7 hotline (find a list of international hotlines here).

It is okay to feel broken this holiday season, so be gracious with yourself. You can survive this Christmas, and you will.

Are you dreading the holidays? Do you want to begin the new year afresh? Here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

Six ways to stress less this holidays

Six-ways-to-stress-less-this-holidays

December may be full of fun parties, good food and long weekends, but the holiday season still comes with a lot of stress. Between family reunions, work functions, Christmas day preparation, decorating and shopping, the holidays can make us anxious, lethargic and reactive.

Rather than letting yourself continue the cycle of holiday stress, make the decision to revitalise the season for yourself. By changing your mindset and following these six steps, you can enjoy it a little more this year.

  1. Pre-plan

We’re mid-way through December, but you still have time to plan ahead. Instead of stressing about everything you ‘have’ to do, set yourself a schedule and delegate tasks to other family members. This might mean decorating early, asking your spouse to help with cooking, assigning seating at the table or shopping for gifts online.

By divvying up your responsibilities and setting a timeline for each, you give yourself the chance to breathe, enjoy or recover from each experience.

  1. Practice self-care

We all feel the weight of expectations during December. Parties, work break-ups and family functions are on every weekend, and it’s difficult to find ‘you’ time.

Make the conscious decision to practice self-care this year by setting a side time for yourself. Have a cup of coffee, going for a walk or read a good book.

Knowing that food and drink is plentiful this season, try to keep your every-day diet healthy as well. You can still indulge at events, but use this as a treat rather than an excuse to let your health fall by the wayside for a whole month.

  1. Don’t catastrophise relationships
    Without a doubt, the most stressful part of the holidays are seeing family members you’ve previously had conflict with. Talking to estranged spouses, ailing parents, in-laws or siblings can be difficult, especially when we hyper-focus on what ‘could’ happen instead of what will.

Rather than anticipating an argument erupting at the dinner table, imagine how you want the day to pan-out, and do everything on your part to make this come to pass.

This could mean shelving contentious issues or past grievances for the day, setting time limits on how long to spend at a function, or asking a loved-one to act as your buffer for the day.

  1. Be child-like

The holidays always had a certain ‘magic’ when we were children. The lights were brighter, the Christmas carols were sung louder, and the anticipation of receiving gifts made December the best month of the year. Unfortunately, as we grow up this wonder ceases, and it is difficult to find it again, but not impossible!

The key to finding your child-like wonder, free of stress and responsibilities, is embracing what you loved as a child. Make time to watch your favourite Christmas movie, play holiday music around the house, go Christmas light-hunting in your neighbourhood and decorate the tree as a family.

  1. Don’t do it alone

We feel a lot of responsibility during the holidays, and even the most avid party planner will feel overwhelmed by it. Despite what everyone (and your inner monologue) is telling you, Christmas festivities are not something you have to do alone.

Instead of carrying the season, spread your responsibilities around. Ask your spouse or partner for help, get the kids to make Christmas cards for the family, and ask a colleague to help organise a work function. You are allowed to be honest with the people around you, so if you feel stressed, let them know and ask for help.

  1. Be realistic

We can plan-ahead, hold back sarcastic comments and try to keep conversation light, but it’s not realistic to think the holidays will go perfectly. After a long day, old tension could arise, you might slip up, or grandma Ethel may feel compelled to say something about your current relationship or how you parent.

You can’t control everything at Christmas, but you can take responsibility for yourself. So be gracious to yourself and loved ones on the day, knowing that stress gets to all of us. Consider what ‘could’ happen, without dwelling on it, and know that when it’s over, you did the best you could.

Are you feeling stressed about the holidays? Do you need help navigating relationships this season? Here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.