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Stress-Free Holidays: 4 Powerful Tips for a Peaceful Season

Stress-Free Holidays: 4 Powerful Tips for a Peaceful Season
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With the holidays approaching, many people will be looking forward to family gatherings, gift giving and holiday spirit.  But unfortunately, the holiday season can also bring about stress to already stressful lives. According to a recent mental health study from IPSOS (Oct 9th, 2023), 62% say that they have felt stressed to the point where it had an impact on how they lived their daily lives at least once in the past year, with just over a third (34%) saying it has happened several times. Around the same (31%) number of people also say that, on several occasions in the last 12 months, they felt so stressed that they could not cope or deal with things.  Across 31 countries, 78% think their mental health is as important as their physical health.  These are staggering numbers.

Nicole Kernohan is a High-Performance Coach and Fractional Chief Operating Officer with the international coaching company, Elevated Worldwide.

Intense stress is a problem Kernohan sees too often especially during the holiday season, with so many adults expecting and accepting it rather than looking for ways to mitigate it before it leads to anxiety or depression.

There are ways to mitigate stress and create a more peaceful and calm holiday season (and life in general). Here are four powerful tips Kernohan suggests to help manage stress during the holidays:

Tip 1: Uplevel Your Bedtime Routine

One of the most effective ways to manage stress is to ensure you get enough restorative sleep. A well-established bedtime routine can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. Start by disconnecting from electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed to reduce exposure to stimulating blue light. Dim the lights in your living space to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. Consider incorporating relaxation techniques, such as reading a book or listening to a guided meditation, to calm your mind and prepare for restful sleep. A good night’s sleep can help you face the day with a clearer mind and reduced stress levels.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, getting enough sleep can boost your immune system, improve your mood, enhance your memory and creativity, and lower your risk of chronic disease.

Tip 2: Clarify and Narrow Your Priorities

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with a long list of commitments and activities along with work priorities. To manage stress effectively, clarify your purpose and vision for your work and the holidays. Identify your top one or two goals, your core values, and your strengths. Say yes to activities and engagements that align with your goals and values while allowing you to leverage your strengths. Be willing to say no to things that don’t align with your priorities or ask for help when needed. By focusing on what truly matters to you, you can reduce unnecessary stress and create a more meaningful holiday season.

Tip 3: Practice Box Breathing

A simple yet powerful technique to quickly calm your nervous system and reduce stress is box breathing. This technique, used by the Navy SEALs, involves inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and holding for four counts before repeating two or three times. You can practice box breathing anytime during the day when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. It can help restore a sense of calm and control in challenging situations.

To practice box breathing, follow these steps:

  1. Inhale for four counts through your nose, filling your lungs with air.
  2. Hold your breath for four counts, keeping your chest still.
  3. Exhale for four counts through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely.
  4. Hold your breath for four counts, relaxing your body.
  5. Repeat two or three times, or until you feel calm and centered.

Tip 4: Cultivate Daily Gratitude

Shifting your mindset and perspective can have a profound impact on your stress levels. Start your day with a quick gratitude practice by writing down three things you’re thankful for and, most importantly, how those things make you feel. Focus on immersing yourself in the feeling of gratitude. It’s impossible to be in a state of stress and gratitude simultaneously. By spending more time in a state of gratitude, you can reduce your stress levels and cultivate a more positive outlook on life. Remember, even in difficult moments, there is always something to be thankful for.

Incorporating these four tips into your daily life during the holiday season and beyond can help you manage stress more effectively and create a sense of peace and calm. By prioritizing sleep, clarifying your priorities, practicing breathing techniques, and embracing gratitude, you can navigate the holiday season with greater resilience and enjoyment.

About Nicole Kernohan:

As a High-Performance Coach and Fractional Chief Operating Officer of the international coaching company, Elevated Worldwide, Nicole Kernohan assists action-driven individuals in utilizing the power of the mind to overcome the status quo, enabling them to live their dream lives.

Following an episode of Multiple Sclerosis that left her paralyzed on the right side of her body, Kernohan developed a holistic approach to mindset and health. This approach enhanced her mental and physical performance, both personally and professionally. She has been living symptom-free for over 20 years. During these years, Kernohan has nurtured an insatiable desire to learn about the power of the mind and support others in transforming their personal and professional results.

Kernohan transitioned from a 10-year corporate business career into the realms of mindset, coaching, and positive psychology. She has shared an educational piece in Success Magazine, is a co-author in two books, achieved over 250,000 views on a short social media video about changing mental perspective, and is an inspiring speaker at events in Canada and the US.

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