Vail Daily column: Reduce your stress this holiday season | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Reduce your stress this holiday season

Dawn Nelson
Valley Voices

Who isn’t stressed these days? Holiday shopping, office parties, baking, cooking, card mailing, gift wrapping, caroling, kids out of school, long lines at the post office and all the cleaning and prep work for those holiday guests can all add up to stress overload.

Stress can be our evil nemesis as well as our friend. Stress keeps us safe from making those decisions that we will regret: Like following your child off a jump in the terrain park or purchasing that perfect gift with a price tag well beyond the budget limit. Healthy stress prevents us from doing the things that we know aren’t good for us. Unhealthy stress however is the very thing that breaks down our emotional reserves as well as our immune system. Too much stress can also have a negative impact on both our mental and physical well-being.

Consider these four ways as a means of reducing your seasonal stress.

• Take time for yourself. If you find yourself running around town like a train about to derail, then chisel out enough time each day for yourself. Taking the time to exercise can increase your serotonin levels which result in increased happiness and decreased mood negativity. So you’re worn down and the thought of sitting in front of the fire with a glass of wine watching your favorite reality show is much more appealing than exercising? At this point, it is recommended that you go against your innate desire to uncork the Pinot and remind yourself what is important for your overall well-being. Even just a 20 minute walk in the sunshine (or cold air) will help you reset and feel energized.

• Set realistic expectations. Adjust your goals so they are attainable. Your house does not have to win the neighborhood lighting contest nor does it have to look like a showroom display. Having a tree decorated above the reach of your toddler is not only practical but also memory producing. Attending your favorite holiday parties and saying no to those that bring about a deep yawn is perfectly OK. Just say no to those things that do not bring you pure, blissful joy.

• Remember what is important. It is easy to get caught up with all the festivities and forget the real reason we are celebrating. It is important for everyone — regardless of religious affiliation, social status, ZIP code, gender or skin color to have a place of acceptance, love, respect and safety. We all crave connections and a sense of belonging especially more during the holidays. Spend some time reflecting on those traditions or people that bring value to your life and shine a light on them.

• Enjoy in moderation. Delectable fat-filled morsels of goodness on that shiny silver platter are so tempting to the overstressed mind and we dive in without thinking of the consequences. Tasting so wonderfully delicious we eat without being aware of the amount we consume. Enjoying in moderation as opposed to excess will bring the same merriment without the regret of over consumption. If you are a drinker, then make it your personal challenge to limit your drinks during each party. You’ll enjoy yourself more and will have less to regret the next day. Take the time to eat and drink intuitively. This means thinking about what you’re about to eat; to actually taste, smell and feel the items texture. Savor that first morsel (or beverage) before you reach for seconds.

Eat, drink and be merry is the motto for the holiday season. Just make sure to take the time to focus more of your attention on those things that are important and bring value into your world and less time on the energy zappers.

Dawn Nelson, MA, NCC, is a registered psychotherapist with a private practice in Eagle-Vail. She can be reached at dawn@centeredlifecounseling.com. For more information, visit http://www.centeredlife counseling.com.

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