How many events have forced you to take a deep breath, give yourself a timeout, step back from a situation or simply explode when something (or someone) made you angry?
It’s an even bet that none of these methods really helped you calm down and adequately control your anger. While it’s easy to put the blame on you, the fault may lie with your methods. Most traditional methods of anger management are out-dated and never all that effective to begin with. Let’s take a look at anger, how it affects you mentally and physically, how the old methods of anger management fail, and what mindfulness practice can.
Bad ways to deal with anger
We all typically respond to anger in one of two ways; we either explode or we repress the feeling and keep our anger hidden deep inside. Neither of these methods is effective, healthy or productive. It’s safe to say that since the dawn of civilization, finding ways to deal with anger has been a constant concern at every social level. From the family to relations between countries; controlling anger has been instrumental in avoiding unnecessary violence and keeping the peace.
The history of anger management
Anger’s negative effects have been documented throughout the ages. Methods of controlling this powerful emotion have been offered by ancient Roman philosophers, religious figures, and medical men from every period in human history.
St. Francis of Assisi famously calmed a raging wolf. The famous Roman-era, Greek doctor and surgeon Galen foreshadowed modern psychoanalysis when he recommended people find a mentor to advise and calm them to control their rage.
Modern anger management was devised by psychologists who sought to find effective ways to stop anger in its tracks, suppress it, or even find a safe or productive way to express it. Mental health professionals thought that the similarity between stress and anger might be the key.
Beginning in the 70s, psychotherapists began using an anti-anxiety treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy as an effective approach to anger management. Cognitive behavioral therapy was simply a method of getting someone accustomed to experiencing gradually increasing levels of stress until they became used to controlling their (excessive) anxiety. The theory was that if it works for anxiety – why wouldn’t it work for anger?
It’s from cognitive behavioral therapy that we have learned all the classic methods of anger management:
- Beating up a pillow
- Taking deep breaths
- Counting to ten
- Stepping away from the situation
Anger Management Through Mindfulness
However, anger must be dealt with directly for emotional well-being and mental health. Cognitive behavioral therapy is, ultimately, only a way to suppress and avoid the heart of the problem: How you respond emotionally to situations and social interactions. None of the traditional methods of anger management offer a way to avoid becoming angry to begin with. What you need is a method that helps us to change how we see situations and keep calm rather than waiting to lose our tempers first. Mindfulness offers us a new way to do precisely that.
The negative effects of uncontrolled anger
Anger is an emotion that comes with incredible consequences for our health.
The first effect that anger has is that it triggers our innate “fight or flight” response. Once we become angry, our adrenal glands begin pumping massive amounts of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol, into the body. Increased levels of these stress hormones prepare the body to respond physically to danger by:
- Moving blood from the internal organs to the muscles
- Raising the heart rate
- Increasing blood pressure
- Increasing body temperature and sweating
- Sharpening your mental focus
All of these responses can cause short and long-term health problems, many of which we are all familiar with from experience. Increased blood pressure can cause headaches, while blood being moved away from the internal organs can create digestive problems. The effects of chronically high stress levels from uncontrolled anger can also cause cardiovascular problems. High blood pressure and associated problems that come with it (like heart attack or stroke) are deadly consequences of regularly losing your temper.
Psychologically, anger can severely diminish your quality of life. Chronic anger can make someone depressed, and the insomnia of continually stewing over some real (or imagined) slight will exhaust you mentally.
Be mindful to learn from your anger
Anger is an emotion that courses through both our bodies and our minds until its exhausted itself, much like a forest fire that dies down once all the available fuel has been burned up. But, what if we step back and find out what set us off?
Mindfulness, focusing our awareness on the now, can help us to discover what we’re sensitive to and where our psychological boundaries lie so we can stop anger before it starts. Use mindfulness to switch from reacting instinctively, to keeping a mindset of self-investigation and even curiosity that will allow you to productively deal with the event or situation that otherwise would set you off.
Forget anger management, use impulse control
Classic anger management techniques won’t help you stop yourself before you lose control. You’re already angry and trying to control how you express or suppress the feeling. On the other hand, impulse control keeps anger from starting at all. Mindfulness practice gives you the ability to control the anger impulse by deciding consciously how you want to react, instead of reacting first and trying to control your reaction afterward. Mindfulness offers us a way to keep control and make every interaction productive and meaningful. Mindfulness will give you the control to decide the best course of action instead of losing control and risking violence, broken relationships or serious legal problems when confronted with the stressful situations that life is full of.
Be mindful to recognize your anger triggers
Your anger triggers could be anything. We are all unique people with our own points of view, emotional makeup, and personal experiences. But, we all do have some things in common. For many of us, emotional triggers can involve:
- Situations that we feel are unfair or unjust
- Feeling disrespected
- Irritations like loud or annoying people, noises, behavior, environment
- Physical assault or discomfort
Use mindfulness to recognize the impulse that comes before you lose your temper. Although you may not have observed it before, there is always an impulse that precedes an angry outburst or even makes you react passive-aggressively. These impulses are the physical sensations and thoughts that your anger trigger produces. While it may feel like you’re angry, the anger impulse isn’t the same, but it is an opportunity to take control rather than lose control.
Don’t control your anger, acknowledge it and let it pass
Use mindfulness to stay in the present and understand why you could feel angry, but keep the control necessary to choose not to. By grounding yourself in the moment, you can use different techniques to stay in the moment and maintain control.
Two methods that may work for you are:
- Hugging yourself tight to remind yourself that you’re utterly in the now.
- Clasp your hands together and interlock the fingers, then squeeze tightly to remind yourself to focus on the world around you, not your angry thoughts.
The trick is to focus on staying in the now to best evaluate your best course of action. We are all different, and what works for one person may not work for you. Mindfulness is a means to be thoroughly engaged in your approach to life, and you need to discover what techniques or methods work to keep you focused on what’s happening now.
Use mindfulness to stop yourself before you lose control. You’ll be able to learn how to deal with things and situations productively rather than hurting your body, mind, and relationships by repeating the same old patterns of behavior.
Anger is not a useless emotion
By being mindful you will not allow anger to be an impulse emotion that dictates your thoughts and actions but will conscientiously use anger. When you are mindful of getting angry about something it will be something that you care enough about to allow it to interrupt your flow. As well you’ll more than likely be able to interpret when your ego is feeling selfishly wounded versus something that is important to you sparking your own anger. I know that it doesn’t sound natural but sometimes you may find yourself emotionally worked up over something and it really isn’t even representative of the person that you are or wish to be.
One example that really helps me to visualize what this may look like is this. Think about how often throughout our American history someone has found cause to be angry about something? Then in turn look how they used that anger to start a movement that facilitated change for the better? See it really can be positive!
Mindfulness It’s Easier Than You Think
The kids are screaming, your boss isn’t happy, and it seems like your spouse is determined to do everything possible to annoy you – you need some of that inner calm everybody’s talking about!
Enter, mindfulness. That state of mind when you’re focused on the here and now. Being mindful is being able to observe your thoughts and emotions without judging if they’re good or bad. Instead of right and wrong, sad or happy, mindfulness is a state of mind where someone can maintain the calm needed to navigate experiences with crystal clarity.
It’s not as complicated or hard as it might seem. Let’s look at the origins of mindfulness, why it’s so popular now, how it helps you, and easy ways to start practicing mindfulness in your daily life.
Who Thought Up Mindfulness?
The roots of mindfulness extend back over two and a half thousand years of the Buddhist tradition. Although Buddhism is religious, mindfulness practice is completely separated from religious practice and is increasingly accepted and used in western society.
This doesn’t mean you can’t also explore other Buddhist concepts and explore this Eastern religion further to deepen your understanding of mindfulness practice. But, mindfulness can be practiced by anyone regardless of religious background.
Western Science’s Approach to Mindfulness
There are two main approaches to mindfulness that have been developed over the last few decades. They are Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and both are completely secular and can be taught over several sessions.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
MBSR is a program that helps people learn how to calm mind and body so they can better cope with illness, pain, and stress.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was initially developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, to aid people experiencing a broad range of both physical and mental health issues.
Currently, thousands of people have taken their basic MBSR programs, which consist of intensive training in mindfulness techniques that allow students to use their own resources to respond more effectively to pain, stress, illness, and the challenges of daily life.
MBSR training has also been thoroughly developed in hospitals and clinics to help staff, medical students, and patients. Mindfulness is being taught in places as diverse as:
- The inner-city
- Law firms
- Government agencies
The evidence-based research concludes that MBSR is useful in helping relieve chronic pain and fatigue, depression, anxiety, and life stress. Incredibly, there’s even evidence it helps medical conditions like psoriasis and cancer (and others).
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
This form of mindfulness was explicitly designed to help individuals overcome depression.
Mark Williams, Dr. John Teasdale and Zindel Segal have adapted mindfulness to prevent clinically-depressed people from relapsing. They call their approach Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
The goal of MBCT is to help individuals who have a tendency toward depression from relapsing. The thought process which makes them vulnerable to depressive relapse is called rumination (repetitively re-thinking negative thoughts). MBCT teaches mindfulness skills that can offer a new way of approaching daily experience. This will help prevent the repetition of negative thinking patterns and feelings that could lead to becoming depressed.
Benefits of Mindfulness Go Beyond Calmness
Recent studies have discovered that maintaining a mindful state (actively being aware and curious), will enable you to engage better with others, and create the perception that you’re more charismatic and trustworthy. Mindfulness puts you firmly in the present, which can make you more sensitive to changing context and perspectives. This state of mind helps someone even to foresee risks, resulting in fewer accidents.
Another study involving members of an orchestra who are frequently bored by playing the same pieces of music repeatedly, had half of them play using mindfulness while the other half played in a normal frame of mind. The musicians playing mindfully not only enjoyed the experience more, but even the audience showed an overwhelming preference for recordings of the mindful music performances.
A recent Harvard study examined the effects of mindfulness on the brain with neuroimaging, physiological measurements, and behavior tests. Researchers found that using meditation (the foundation of mindfulness), the brain created new gray matter. At the end of the study, there was more gray-matter density in the hippocampus (important for learning and memory) and the structures responsible for compassion, self-awareness, and introspection.
Easy Ways to Be Mindful Every Day
Let’s start with exactly what’s involved in being mindful: Mindfulness is just bringing your full awareness to what you’re experiencing at that moment. This isn’t rocket science, at other times it was simply called “pay attention to what you’re doing.” Expanding on that quote you not only pay attention to what you’re doing but refuse to allow your mind to take over your focus with thoughts, worries or concerns for the past or future. Therefore bringing your focus to the exact current moment that you are in.
While the fine details of mindfulness can be more complicated – if you just learn to focus on the now without worrying about what happened before or what you need to do about things later; you’re most of the way there.
Start with the Little Things
Begin by taking baby-steps. There are many daily activities that we practice mindlessly, that can easily be done mindfully.
Brushing your teeth: Instead of going through the motions robotically, try to focus on precisely what you’re doing. Focus on each part of your mouth, how you hold the brush, the movement of your hand and arm.
Meal preparation: Focus on the smells, textures, and taste of the ingredients. Immerse yourself in the process of assembling a meal. When you eat, pay attention to every part of the meal and where you’re eating it.
Getting dressed: Pay attention to all the details involved in getting dressed. From the color of your shirt to the texture of the pants you put on, experience the entire process without thinking about what you were doing before or what you may be doing next.
Mindful Housework: Doing routine chores is a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. From cleaning up after dinner to vacuuming the carpet, try placing every part of your attention on that activity.
Work Your Way Up to the Next Step
After you’ve practiced mindfulness on the more mundane and routine activities of your life, it’s time to take the next step: Other people.
Once you’re comfortable being mindful privately, explore mindfulness in your day-to-day interactions with other people to really improve your interpersonal relationships and communication skills!
- Start with eye-contact. When you speak to someone, try to honestly see them. Look at their facial expressions, how they hold themselves (relaxed? Defensive?), and be aware of how what you say is affecting them.
- Use mindfulness to listen carefully to everything people say to you (and how they say it). Try to pick out every nuance and change in mood during a conversation. Make sure that whatever you say is relevant to the discussion by focusing more on what you hear.
- Try being more grateful. Being mindful of other’s actions includes being grateful for the things people do to help you. Did your spouse do the dishes? Then say thank you! Has your mindfulness made you more aware of how well your child is behaving lately? Let your son or daughter know how you feel.
Of Mindfulness There Need Not Be A Start and End Point
Now that you have the awareness of mindfulness begin exploring it and challenging yourself to remain mindful when your struggling to focus or being reactive. Pull in those wandering thoughts, concerns and feelings by acknowledge them and then put them aside for later consideration when it is practical.
There’s many factors to losing weight like diet and exercise but what about psychological health and mindfulness. When you are trying to lose weight, you can get stressed or overworked. You can start feeling exhausted both physically and mentally. But, changing the way you think and feel can help aid the weight loss process to keep out negative thoughts and feelings. Below is a list of all the ways you can gear your mind towards a more positive outlook, motivate yourself, change your relationship with food and help you look in the mirror and feel amazing. First of all, with mental stimulation and lastly with meditation practices.
Tips for Positively Controlling your Mind
- Be realistic, you’re not going to hit your goals and be super thin within a few weeks. It takes time to properly lose weight and get in shape.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day, patience is key! I think the most difficult lesson to learn is to be patient. You will have good days and bad days, you will look at yourself in the mirror and see results one day and then the next not see any and feel like giving up. Chill out and give yourself a break.
- Make a plan and start a routine. How stressful is it when you don’t have a schedule? You easily forget to workout, forget to eat, eat too much. If there’s a routine then your body can adjust and you can feel good about each day.
- Look at yourself honestly. Sometimes looking in the mirror and critiquing yourself is hard but needed to move forward. Look at your body, your lifestyle and think about what you dislike, the cold hard truth and then throw it all away. Mentally erase those feelings and start new.
- After you’ve erased those negative thoughts, figure out what you want to gain in the end. Whether it’s losing the weight to fit into that bikini, or wedding dress. Getting fit to be a better person for your family. Give yourself a positive goal instead of just “I want to be fit and thin.”
- Fantasize, imagine life when you are at your goal. It looks pretty great, right? Fitting into those jeans or being able to feel confident on the beach with barely any baggy clothes holding you back. Use these thoughts and fantasies as a way to motivate you into working harder.
- No more excuses, stop the blame-game. It is your fault. You are the ring leader for your daily choices. You go to dinner and get chicken fingers and french fries. You then blame everyone at the table for your bad choices. Just because your friend got a cheeseburger and fries doesn’t mean you have to do the same. You could have gotten the salad, you aren’t being forced to eat poorly, every restaurant has healthy choices. Take responsibility for your actions and make better choices.
- Be positive and confident. Stop putting yourself down saying you’re fat and ugly. Stop thinking that you have nothing to wear, you look fat in everything you wear. If you think you’re fat then everyone else will think it too. Your energy reflects onto other people. But if you get dressed and look at yourself in a positive way then everyone around you will feel the same way.
- Daily Motivation. Make this an important part of your routine. For me, every night before bed I look up motivational quotes. Look up outfit’s I would love to wear when I am at my goal weight. Go to bed thinking positively. Wake up replaying these motivational quotes in your head.
- Set a goal calendar. I have one in my bathroom by the scale, I add daily scale readings, weekly goals and rewards for myself. If I hit this week’s goal then I can get a pedicure. Things like that can excite you.
- Look at Food differently. When we look at food we either go into a frenzy or we look at it with disgust. Don’t do either. Look at food as in, this is going to make me feel good and healthy or this is going to make me feel tired and sick.
- Lastly Love yourself. Never look in the mirror feeling disgust or hate. Look at your body and pick out the parts you love. Pamper yourself the days you feel less than your best. Wear something that is your go-to favorite. Do what will make you discard all depressing feelings.
Now that your mind is motivated and re-trained, here’s some ways to Meditate daily
- Turn off your phone, silence it, no distractions to ruin your meditation.
- Take a walk, get your body warmed up and your blood flowing. This helps with circulation and keeps your body from feeling restless.
- Sit up straight, comfortable whether that is in a chair, on a pillow, legs crossed or out straight.
- Relax your arms and shoulders and place your hands on your thighs.
- Stay very still to keep the body quiet.
- Calm your breathing, focus on your breathing for a few minutes till it’s even and relaxed.
- Focus on each breath removing all thoughts from your mind. You will start to breath slower and feel a sense of great calm.
- Keep your eyes closed and smile, you will then start to feel relaxed and peaceful.
- Meditate in the Morning and/or at Night, whenever you feel the need or have the time. Starting the day with an immense calm feeling and then ending the day feeling relaxed is a great start.
- Set up a timer in case you have only a small window of time to meditate, this will ease your mind to not check the clock.
- If you’re distracted by noise then play soft tranquil music like waves, rain or a soft piano.
- When you are ready to stop meditating don’t rush out of it, slowly come out of your Zen state.
People dealing with seasonal affective disorder (SAD); the medical version of the winter blues aren’t the only ones that struggle with the short, gray days, grim weather, and the overall gloom of the winter season.
Reduced exposure to sunlight can significantly affect your circadian rhythm (the body’s biological clock regulating hormone production and even brain wave activity). For older people and for individuals with conditions like Raynaud’s (a condition that causes extreme sensitivity to the cold), the winter blues can be much worse.
Few of us are big fans of the cold weather season, but for those of you that spend much of the winter in the dumps, here are some ways you can improve your mood to maintain your mental health until spring returns.
What are the Signs that You Have the Winter Blues?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are nine symptoms associated with SAD that we should look out for. If you’re experiencing any one of these – then you might have a serious case of the winter blues and should take steps to restore a positive outlook and improve your mood.
The symptoms of SAD are:
- Changes in either appetite (particularly a craving for foods high in
carbohydrates) or weight
- Persistent sluggishness or agitation
- Having a hard time concentrating
- Your limbs feel heavy or tired
- Unusual thoughts of suicide
- Remaining depressed most of the day for two weeks or longer
- A sensation of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Insomnia or other sleep problems
- Lack of interest in activities that you enjoyed before
Simply exposing yourself to sunlight will stimulate the brain to release of serotonin – one of the most important hormones to improve your mood. The dark days of winter can cause your serotonin levels to dive; by getting outside as much as possible when the sun is out, you can raise your serotonin levels to fight the blues. Even half an hour per day can make a huge difference. Try eating lunch or getting your exercise outdoors to get as much daylight as possible to help reset your body’s circadian rhythm and balance your mood.
Change Your Diet
Winter frequently leaves many of us craving starchy foods and sweets and, while these items can be an enjoyable part of our diet, to maintain health, we need to strike a balance.
Rather than run to the snack machine when you need a quick pick-me-up; choose foods like walnuts, boiled eggs, and cheese; they can all help the body to secrete more serotonin, which will lift your mood.
Our diet can also play a significant role in sleep quality. Poor sleep can exacerbate the winter blues – so it’s best to avoid eating a heavy meal within an hour or two before bedtime. If you’re the type who often wakes up in the night feeling peckish; then try eating a small, protein-rich snack before bed.
Wind Down Before Bed
Worry about work or family life and being constantly connected to email and social media can have a negative impact your sleep quality – ruining your mood in the morning. Although it’s tempting to take your mobile device or laptop to bed with you, make sure you give the brain an opportunity to switch off as you prepare for bed for the best possible night’s sleep.
A good idea is to stay away from your social media accounts and email for at least an hour and a half before turning in. Try reading a book (catching up on the news may not be very relaxing), listening to soothing music or just have a warm bath. By establishing a regular wind-down routine, you can reduce any feelings of anxiety and relax your mind; ensuring that you get the best possible night’s sleep to be re-energized for the next day.
Try Napping to Beat Fatigue and Improve Your Mood
Lethargy during the day is a typical symptom of SAD. Starting a napping routine over the winter is a fantastic way to combat this. Ideally, your naps should last between 10 and 20 minutes and be scheduled for when you feel most sleepy during the day or merely find yourself losing your concentration. Many of us feel a natural decline in energy levels around mid-afternoon – but whenever you start to feel tired or unfocused is the best time.
Find or Create Something You Can Look Forward to
The depths of winter are a perfect time to plan something you can look forward to.
Studies have shown that people who travel can get a much greater boost in their mood from anticipating the trip than from the journey itself. Even if you must wait until spring or summer arrives to take your trip, you can still get a mood boost that lasts through the winter just from the anticipation.
But, do you have to travel to create this mood-elevating anticipation?
No! Use the cold months to plan any experience you can look forward to. Whether it’s working on the garden, a first picnic or beach trip, or taking a hike on your favorite path. It’s the anticipation that has the effect, not what you’re anticipating.
Make the Most of Indoor Time
Inclement weather and frigid temperatures will inevitably keep you stuck indoors – sometimes for days at a time. Make the most of it!
Are there any home improvements or repairs that you’ve meant to get to? Get the materials you’ll need together in advance so when the winter weather keeps you stuck inside; you can avoid going stir crazy. Instead of retreating to the couch, you’ll have a productive and engaging activity to occupy the day.
If you share your home with friends or family – why not keep a collection of board games and share some quality time interacting with each other rather than an electronic device.
Learn Something New
Use the time you’re stuck indoors to new a new skill!
Have you always intended to learn a musical instrument? Maybe you’ve always wished to learn how to write software applications? Take advantage of the slower-paced winter months to pick up a new skill you can show off come spring and summer. The feeling of accomplishment doing so can offer, will go far to improve your mood and your self-image.
January is a funny month – the big holidays are behind us, along with the stress of family gatherings, long-distance travel, and amusing the kids during their winter break. It’s a month that marks the beginning of a new year, and an opportunity to turn over a new leaf.
If you plan on making any resolutions for the New Year, take some inspiration from this list of 12 that you can use to improve your life.
#1 Be More Active
Recent studies have discovered a link between sitting for extended periods and a 50 percent increased risk of death from all causes. Other health problems related to sitting for too long include:
- Heart disease
Even worse – even when researchers adjusted for time spent engaged in exercise (up to a few hours per week), the people who sat longer still had a higher rate of disease and death than non-exercisers who spent more time standing or walking.
Commit to improving your health in the next year by resolving to stand and walk more rather than the spend most of your time either at a desk or on your sofa.
#2 Start Exercising Regularly
This is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions and one of the best. Although sitting for too long can be bad for your health – just standing around won’t do as much good as exercising. Sure, the gyms are crowded in January from everybody else trying to trim down from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, too much drink, and a regular diet of holiday pastries – but you can even get a good workout at home.
Try these alternatives:
- Get some exercise vids and sweat off the pounds in your living room
- Invest in a stationary bike or treadmill
- Start jogging around the neighborhood
Resolve to dedicate time to looking and feeling better by starting (and maintaining) a good exercise routine.
#3 Get More Sleep
Getting too little sleep carries a broad range of health risks and can make you more liable to suffer many serious diseases. According to an article on Harvard University’s Healthy Sleep website, chronic sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for your health.
Studies show that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night tend to have a higher body mass index while people who sleep at least eight hours have the lowest on average. One reason for this is that sleep deprivation depresses the hormone that tells you that you’ve had enough to eat – leptin.
Many studies have also shown that adults who typically sleep less than five hours have a much more increased risk of developing diabetes. By resolving to get more quality sleep time you’ll enjoy feeling more rested, less stressed, and be healthier.
#4 Learn to Prioritize
Resolve to focus on the most important things first. Instead of attacking everything willy-nilly – try focusing on the most critical issues first. A good exercise is to ask yourself: “If I could only do five things for the rest of my life, what would they be?”
This mental exercise will give you some perspective on what’s important to you. Try it out; you might be very surprised by your answer. Armed with this piece of self-knowledge ask yourself the same thing about what needs to be done today, this week, this month, etc.
#5 Get Better Organized
It’s easy to lose track of paperwork, belongings, information, and so on – so resolve to be better organized and have a good idea of where everything important is kept. Start with your desk, closets, and drawers and work your way up to places like the attic, garage, and basement. Resolve to get a handle on where all your things are and improve:
- Improve work or school performance
- Stress less since you won’t have to look for lost items just when you need them
- Reduce clutter for a better work/living space
#6 Spend More Time with Loved Ones
The old saying is that no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at work. And, it’s true – what we remember is the wonderful times we’ve spent with our friends and family. Resolve to spend more time with the people that matter to you. Even making a quick call can make a huge difference in your life, especially regarding your older relatives. Don’t regret not having spoken one last time with a parent or grandparent who passed unexpectedly.
For those of us with children; don’t forget that they grow up before you know it. Enjoy being with them now, while they still need you and can’t imagine life without you.
#7 Read More
Reading is magical. Not just becoming immersed in a fantastic adventure set in far-off lands, but listening to the ideas of other people as if they were speaking to you face to face. Read more in the New Year and learn or be entertained by people from anywhere and anytime in the world.
#8 Watch Less TV
Unless you’re watching a historic event like the moon landing or an informative documentary; TV is wasting your time. Resolve to use your time better and avoid vegging out in front of the flatscreen. Read, exercise or learn a new skill, but resolve to do something more productive with the time you usually spend watching sitcoms or crime shows.
#9 Pay More Attention
Many of us go through the day glued to tablets, smartphones, and TVs. How often do you look up from the device in your hand or on the desk and take a look around?
Resolve to pay more attention and who knows what you may notice?
- An attractive stranger smiling at you
- A business opportunity
- A fantastic bargain
- That bus barreling straight toward you
You get the idea. Try looking around you and noticing your surroundings a little more often.
#10 Complaining without Offering a Solution is Whining
We hear it from children all the time: “I’m hungry,” and “I don’t want that,” instead of “I’d like spaghetti please,” and “I would rather have soup instead.” Adults are often just as bad. Instead of complaining, try offering someone the solution to your problem as well.
Besides making it clear to whoever you’re complaining to; you’ll have a clear idea of exactly how an issue can be resolved so you can focus on getting the best resolution from the beginning.
#11 Listen More
How often do you monopolize a conversation? Consider it from the other person’s point of view; how interesting is a conversation when you can’t get in two words edgewise?
Resolve to be a better listener by learning to talk less and care more about what someone has to say. Remember that a conversation isn’t a monologue, and that you may find out a lot by hearing more of what other people have to say.
#12 Look on the Bright Side
Resolve to be less pessimistic. I know it can be hard when the plumbing is clogged up, or you got a flat on the way to work – but the stress of always expecting the worse can actually damage your health!
The idea is not to mull on the bad things and appreciate the good that’s still there. Flat tire? Great! Easy and cheap to fix and I didn’t have an accident. You still have a flat tire, but you’re not stressing over it.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, there’s a lot of opportunity for stress. The holidays can be a beautiful time of year to make fantastic memories – but it’s also when high expectations and being thrown together with (occasionally difficult) family can make you equally miserable.
But, there are ways to mitigate the effects of stress to enjoy this time of year fully with a minimum of emotional turmoil – keep reading to discover thirteen effective stress reduction strategies to get you through the season.
Have Realistic Expectations
Your holidays don’t need to be perfect or happen just like prior year’s celebrations. As our families change and we grow older; rituals and traditions often must change.
Hold on to the most important ones, but be open to starting new ones. For example, if your grown children can’t make it home this year, try finding new ways to celebrate as a family, such as using Skype and sharing pictures or videos by email.
It’s also important to realize that your 14 year old won’t be as enthusiastic about some holiday traditions as he or she was when they were only eight. It can be disappointing not to share a particular movie or trip because a child has outgrown it. Accept that this is a natural part of life and move on.
Make Peace with Family Members
Make an effort to accept your family members and friends the way they are, especially when they don’t live up to your expectations. Lay aside any grievances until after the holidays and try to see both sides of the situation. Also, be as understanding as possible when others get hurt or angry when something goes wrong. The odds are that they’re experiencing the effects of holiday season stress too.
This is the most critical time of year to have a plan. Preparing for family gatherings, travel, accommodations, and of course, gift giving, will ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.
Planning will minimize the chances of things going wrong or getting caught unprepared at the worst possible time. Set aside time to get the shopping done, make travel arrangements well in advance, schedule car or home maintenance beforehand to avoid the stress of home heating problems or getting stuck on the road. With the season’s chores, activities, and commitments set out in advance you’ll enjoy more and stress less.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
No one wants to be rude or hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose – but it’s important to know when to say no. Saying yes to someone when you should have said no could leave you overwhelmed and feeling resentful. Friends, family, and office mates will understand if you aren’t able to join in every holiday project or activity. Even when it’s not possible to refuse when the boss needs you to work overtime, you may still be able to change something else on your schedule to make up for lost time.
Share the Load
Many of us take on too much over the holidays. Whether it’s cooking, baking, decorating or planning activities – you need to know when to delegate some of the work. Taking on too much responsibility or work can cause high levels of stress that will ruin any enjoyment for you.
Be willing to admit that you can’t do it all by yourself and just as ready to ask others to lend a hand.
Take a Break
The holidays can be overwhelming – between Halloween, Thanksgiving, religious holidays and New Year’s Eve; it’s a non-stop roller coaster ride of festivities for over two months. Don’t feel guilty about taking a break from it all. Sometimes a little alone time or scheduling a break from seasonal activities will keep you refreshed and able to appreciate the festivities better with less stress.
Get Enough Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation can cause a lot of health problems (and even weight gain), so it’s’ crucial that you get enough sleep during this busy time. While late nights with friends can be an enjoyable way to pass the time, getting too little sleep for too long will eventually catch up to you and make many other holiday commitments unnecessarily stressful as you deal with excess fatigue and struggle to stay awake.
Make Time for Exercise
Being busy with holiday preparations, keeping up with work commitments, and attending to family shouldn’t keep you exercising. Keeping to your fitness routine over the holiday provides you with:
Important time for yourself
A way to keep holiday weight gain to a minimum
A great way to relieve holiday season stress
If you don’t have a fitness routine – then this is a great time to start one. December is the time of year when the gyms are least crowded.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Although a couple of drinks can be an excellent way to relieve stress; drinking to excess will damage your health. This is especially true for people who don’t ordinarily drink very much throughout the rest of the year. A sudden increase in drinking over the holidays is the cause of holiday heart, a type of heart arrhythmia caused by alcohol affecting heart tissue adversely.
Pick Your Fights
Arguments are inevitable when people are thrown together for any activity, but especially the holidays. Keep stress to a minimum by picking your fights.
Is it that important that someone is seated next to somebody else or that a meal is served a particular way? Try to determine the situations when it’s important to stick to your guns or better to just let it go and avoid a confrontation.
Things Will Go Wrong
The kids will fight, decorations will break, plumbing will fail, you’ll argue with your siblings over stupid things, etc. Keep your perspective and anticipate that things will go wrong. If you go into the holidays expecting that there will be some difficulties, then you’ll stress less when they do happen.
Keep Electronics Charged
Avoid the stress of missing a picture or video opportunity because the smartphone is out of juice. Make sure that you won’t ever miss the perfect holiday shot (or a call) by keeping the phone, tablet, and digital camera charged and ready for use.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Finally, remember to enjoy yourself. The whole point of being together with friends and family is to enjoy each other’s company. Instead of stressing, try to take advantage of the holidays to enjoy the festivities. It could be a fun day getting a Christmas tree with the family and decorating it, or going ice skating with your partner; instead of stressing over it remember to have fun.