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Top 10 Tips for Less Seasonal Stress

The festive holidays will soon be upon us and this period is almost always among the top 20 most stressful events of life – sometimes as high as fifth or sixth.

Other events are infrequent  (deaths, marriage, divorce and even house moves), but Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Las posadas and even New Year stress comes around with great regularity!

At a time when advertising bombards us with scenes of joyous family gatherings, and we’re expected to be in a perpetual state of celebration, it can feel shameful to confess to others that the whole thing fills you with dread.

However much fun this time is traditionally meant to be, there is no doubt that the festive season brings frustration and stress – even for the kids!

here are my Top 10 Tips for Reducing seasonal Stress:

 These tips mainly reference Christmas, but will help in all situations.

1) not Too Much

You’re not superhuman! If you’ve already agreed to host your own party and go to a further 3, do you really need to accept extra invitations?

You need time to rest as well as have fun.  Build in plenty of down-time, time to flop around and chill out. If you are reading this and thinking, “No chance!” then that merely emphasises just how much you do need to build it in.

So, insist upon it. Everyone will benefit if you have more energy at the key moments.

 

2) Plan Ahead

Buying presents over a few months takes away the stress of having to find them all at once and also spreads the financial burden.  It’s atmospheric to shop when the lights are in the shops and it can be fun, to buy a last special present on Christmas Eve – but you don’t have to do all of your present buying in December.

It’s also not wise to wait too long for something that’s likely to sell out.  It can be extremely stressful to find that an important present is out of stock everywhere.

 

3) Buy Online

Checkout queues can be a really stressful, some people even suffer trolley rage.  It’s possible to order food, drink and gifts for delivery to your house if you get in quickly enough.

The delivery charge is worth it for the loss of stress!  Do it early or you’ll worry about whether it will arrive in time or not.

 

4) Remember nothing’s Perfect

You don’t have to be Ebenezer Scrooge to acknowledge that, while there is the perfect Christmas tune (Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You – don’t look at me like that, it must be, based on the neverending airtime it comands ), there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas.

You’re not responsible for everyone’s happiness.

It might be your job to cook the dinner and pick the presents, but if Aunt Flo is in an awful mood, or Grandma insists on watching 3 hours of continuous soaps and upsets everyone else, it’s not your fault.

Although, you can help to set the atmosphere, essentially people will make up their own minds whether they’re going to be in the festive spirit or not.  Which brings us nicely to…

 

 

5) Be Responsible

Alcohol is either a friend or an enemy depending how you treat it.  Entertaining can be so stressful that many people like to have a small drink just as it’s about to swing into action.

This can be relaxing and can help you to feel jolly – creating a festive atmosphere.  Of course, this does mean just a tipple… a drunken host or hostess is not a good idea!

If you’re cooking, why not get someone else onto drinks?  They should make sure everyone has what they want without overdoing it.

Since tensions can be high, it’s not a good idea to get so drunk that you tell your sister exactly what you really think of her and her children!  That will greatly increase your stress for a long time to come!  This is less likely if you stick to an amount of alcohol you know you can handle well.

Parties are a great time to let your hair down, but it’s a good idea to drink soft drinks interspersed with the booze during the night and some water before bed.  Overdoing it will often ruin what was otherwise a great night, so one way of dealing with that is to say, “I am going to drink only 4 drinks tonight” (or whatever you know you can handle and not suffer the consequences).  If you plan it that way, then you will find you can stick to a sensible limit more easily.

 

6) The In-Laws

Or, as some call them, “the Outlaws.”  If you have wonderful ones then this is no problem at all – move on to the next item.  If yours are hard work, you may just have to accept that it may be a strain.

Knowing what has made it easier in the past can help, as can the notion that you can take 10 minutes out from time to time – agree this with your partner beforehand and work together as a tag-team.

 

7) keep it simple

Sometimes, less is more.  Although there are certain things you cannot avoid putting extra effort into at Christmas there may be others that are so stressful that they aren’t worth the payback.

Is it necessary to prepare every meal as a gourmet feast or to put up so many decorations that your house can be seen from space?  Even the kids may appreciate doing something lower key for some of the holiday.  If they don’t chill out at some point, there will be tantrums.

 

8)   Time to Relax

Speaking of chilling out, it’s important to have something stress-free planned.  Many people book a massage or spa session either just before or just after (or both if you have the time and money).

Perhaps a round of golf or playing some other sport can also do this – if it’s not too cold!  And of course, there is the Boxing Day sport schedule.

Counsellors often have very busy January’s when new clients want to unload the stresses they underwent over the Christmas period.  It can be good to unburden this to an empathic ear.

My own door is always open, book your FREE consultation here.

 

9)   Go For a Walk

It can be a relief to go for a walk on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day.  It can be a blessed break from TV, relatives, broken toys and over-indulged stomachs! Getting out in nature, especially if there is festive weather can really help to lower stress levels.

 

10)   Having a Spiritual Moment

If you are a religious person it can be the highlight of Christmas to support your faith or go a Carol Service.  If you’re not, it can be calming just to enjoy the music in the malls or on street corners – take a minute to enjoy!

It can be great to escape the manic pace of shopping, find a cafe, grab a seat, pop in some headphones and listen to my FREE 7-min relaxation audio and lower your pulse rate.

The festive season can be such a happy time of celebration and connection. However, it can be a time of isolation, so reach out to others and check they’re okay.

If you do find Christmas stressful then remember keep this list handy and it might ease the burden.

wishing you a joyously festive season.

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8 Steps to Unbreakable Motivation

Whether you’re heading towards a specific goal, trying to stick to your New Year’s resolutions or just pumping yourself up towards something in the future, motivation is the thing that makes or breaks success in the first instance – hands down.

Motivation is actually made up of two parts. First there is the drive to get started on the thing you wish to achieve, and the second is the willpower to keep at it.

The most long-lasting motivation is created internally. When you rely on external factors you surrender control of your progress. But when you motivate yourself, you remain in the driving seat and it’s this that will often lead to more enjoyment and a stronger sense of achievement.

Here are some steps to help you get motivated and maintain it…

  1. Review

Think of your main goal or what you’d like to be motivated about and then ask yourself

  • What would happen if I achieved that?
  • What wouldn’t happen if I achieved that?
  • What would happen if I didn’t achieve that?
  • What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t achieve that?

This will give you a clear idea of what will happen when you do or don’t achieve that what you’re after. These answers are your motivations.

Take those motivations and paste them everywhere. Keep the list with you in your wallet or purse, on a flash card, stick them to your computer screen, your phone screensaver or anywhere else that you regularly look at and therefore be reminded of them.

  1. Reflect

Take time to sit and think. Self-hypnosis, meditation, guided visualisation – whatever floats your boat, just DO IT! Bring your wandering mind and its thoughts back to this moment NOW. What is happening RIGHT NOW is all there ever is. All that ever exists. And it’s in this moment NOW that you can begin to focus on a plan. You can consciously recharge whenever you are feeling drained. One of the most motivating things you can do is to rest and renew yourself at regular intervals.

  1. Listen to yourself

We can be very critical of ourselves sometimes but we can also be our own greatest cheerleaders. Focus your mind towards the positives in your motivations list and believe that anything that cannot be controlled by you is alright. Tell yourself, “it’s fine”, and keep going.

  1. Move it

Exercise will not only keep you energised, refreshed, and motivated, it also gives you an active time to reflect on things.

Examining your thoughts while you exercise can double your productivity. If a challenge springs to mind you can push a little harder and use that energy to fuel an even better workout. A long walk or gentle run can become very introspective and the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain can reduce stress and enhance motivation as a natural by-product.

Exercise your mind as well by doing things differently. Try brushing your teeth with the other hand, swapping knife and fork around or even taking a new route to work. In this way, you’re developing a growth mindset and training your mind to enjoy new challenges. This can be applied to the major goals you wish to achieve. Sometimes having a new insight or approach to life can excite and motivate.

  1. Accountability

Find at least one (or more) like-minded people who can support and motivate you through the good and bad times. These people will share your triumphs and failures, be genuinely happy and, most importantly, be there for you. Feeling alone or having the wrong people around you can destroy your motivation.

  1. Listen to music

Listen to your favourite, uplifting music. Create a play-list that has all the music you love listening to that makes you feel motivated, inspired and high-spirited. Play that soundtrack first thing in the morning and at regular intervals in your day to give yourself a good lift and a strong shot of motivation. Feel free to dance around and release those feel-good hormones.

  1. The big picture

Imagine your life after you’ve achieved your goal. Allow yourself to really step into the vision. When you have a clearly-defined image, you will be more motivated to pursue the big picture. Revisit your vision regularly and allow it lift you.

  1. Celebrate the journey

Huge goals often take time to realise. This can be frustrating and become a drain on the original motivation. So, on your journey towards success, pay attention to and celebrate how far you’ve come! Remember the challenges you’ve accomplished so far and be proud of yourself. The celebration will inspire you and build a more effective you.

You may even prefer to set a series of short-term goals and celebrate reaching those on your way towards your main objective.

Ultimately, motivation starts with mindset and if you use one or more of the tried and tested techniques outlined above, you’ll find yourself at the finish line quicker than you could ever have imagined.

If you’d like to learn how hypnotherapy can help you get motivated, get in contact with Richard for a free rapid change consultation.

Richard Scott combines psychology, NLP and CBT with over 10 years’ professional, full-time experience in traditional and modern hypnosis to deliver the fastest, most successful results. He specialises in stress and anxiety control, weight management, confidence and self-esteem, and empowering women.

 

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New Year Resolutions that Stick

The New Year approaches and many of us start thinking of resolutions. It can actually feel uplifting to begin a new plan such as joining a gym to get fit, writing one page a day for your next best-selling novel, or more prosaically, keeping up with your inbox.

But, as most of you know, the novelty wears off and you get bored and discouraged. You’re confronted with the arduous day to day challenge of sustaining your goals. Unexpected events throw you off course. You’re required to stay late at work, you can’t put down our smart phone or a relative gets sick.

Disappointingly, one day of missing the goal then leads to missing the next and next day, until your goal is abandoned.

In this post, I’m going to reveal to you where resolutions begin to unravel.

Most articles about New Year’s resolutions talk about setting practical goals and getting started, but I’m going to jump ahead and anticipate your first failure. Just as important as setting realistic and important S.M.A.R.T. goals is having a plan for how to keep going despite the inevitable setbacks you will encounter.

Disillusionment Stage
Let me introduce Stacey. Stacey has been very excited about her New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, be kinder to her husband, and implement a reward chart for her young boy. She’s discovering the dance class at the gym is lots of fun and she has even lost a few pounds. Her son loves the stickers he gets for keeping his room tidy. She’s also been enjoying her alone time with her husband more since she’s made an effort to be less critical and more supportive.

Then, on a mid-January morning Stacey can’t find her car keys. She also can’t find any stickers and leaves home without following through on the program she planned with her son. Stacey arrives late for the gym to find the parking lot is full. After circling for fifteen minutes, she leaves feeling very annoyed. She gets to work and feels awkward that she still has her gym clothes on and she has to explain the situation and re-live the frustration.

Starving and frustrated, Stacey furtively grabs a chocolate-covered donut from the work-kitchen. Stacey’s husband calls during work to say ‘hi’ and she snaps at him for something random, as she’s meanwhile harbouring resentment that he didn’t help find her car keys.

We all have such days. No one succeeds in accomplishing his or her goals without facing some unexpected setbacks. What, then, differentiates those who can pick themselves up and keep going from those who become just give up?

What Went Wrong?
As human beings, we constantly strive to understand our circumstances and, our purpose. It’s how we’re programmed. When something unpleasant happens to you, we often demand to know why. This explanation stage is crucial to understanding how you respond to setbacks.

Most of us look for a way to make sense of setbacks. We look to blame someone (oneself, a partner, the situation) and start feeling hopeless. If you believe the setback is something beyond your control, then you’ll feel helpless, frustrated and discouraged.

Those who are resilient persevere in face of adversity. In fact, some individuals even use setbacks to become even more determined to accomplish their goals. The large body of research on resilience demonstrates that those who can get back on track quickly after setbacks enjoy better moods, which lead to more productivity, and overall better health.

How can you use this information to help you overcome those rough days and stick to your New Year’s Resolutions?

In the mental health field, we know that some individuals are born with more resilient temperaments, even as infants, showing the capacity to soothe themselves quickly. Even if you weren’t born as one of these fortunate individuals, know that it’s not too late for you to develop your own resiliency capabilities.

Here is a mindset to help you become more resilient.

Develop realistic expectations.

Recognise that the unexpected (e.g., a sick child, power outage, miscommunication) is a part of life. Also, acknowledge that making changes takes time and that there may be a steep learning curve at the beginning. At times, it will take longer to accomplish your goals than you had originally anticipated.

However, this time doesn’t need to be a “waste of time.” Instead of saying “this shouldn’t happen,” or “I should already know how to do this,” recognise that setbacks are a part of life that leads to progress.

Appreciate that setbacks may even bring unexpected surprises.

Stacey might decide to talk to her husband about chores and discover he welcomes a heart-to heart with her; he’s been frustrated with her silent treatments and is relieved to know what’s bothering her. Or maybe Stacey will talk to her HR department at work about having healthier options in the kitchen.

Perhaps she’ll realise that she just had a slip with her son and his reward stickers and can talk to him tomorrow to explain the plan and get back on track. There are lots of options. Each day offers new opportunities to approach things just a bit differently, adding a process for efficiency, cultivating kindness and patience, or just having “one of those days.”

You might even consider making your New Year’s “Resolution” to become more resilient, to better able to find solutions and maintain your overall determination in all that you do. Resolve not to let small setbacks – or even large ones – throw you off your game.

Once you resolve to find a healthy determination and mindset to tackle problems one by one, you’ll be mentally and spiritually re-charged. Go ahead, set realistic goals, but also set one extra one – the goal of sticking with your plan when the going gets tough.

Let me know how you go, and if you enjoyed this post maybe your friends will too – please share.

Have a fantastic Christmas and New Year,

Richard Scott