Thanksgiving and the holidays are a time for celebrating, spending time with our loved ones and acknowledging all the good we have in our life. But they can also be the cause of a great deal of stress and anxiety - whether it’s family pressures; expectations on how the day should turn out; or even just wanting to make sure the day runs smoothly.
Here are 3 simple tips for having a calm and stress-free Thanksgiving, so you can relax and enjoy this special time with your loved ones.
Use the S.T.O.P technique.
When you notice stress building you can use the S.T.O.P technique. S stands for stop, T stands for Take a breath, O stands for Observe and P stands for Proceed.
By stopping, taking a breath, observing what’s going on within and then proceeding, we can get present and de-escalate our stress before it grows.
Notice how it feels to stop and break the cycle of stressful thought. It’s important to do this especially when stress is high.
Try this practice the next time you feel stress starting to build.
Let go of expectations.
A large part of the reason the holidays can overwhelms us is because we place high expectations on how things should be, and resist what is.
We have this idea that whatever is causing our stress shouldn’t be happening. And this resistance is a huge part of what exacerbates stress.
Stressful things happen in life. People don’t act the way we want them to. Things may not turn out as we had planned.
We often can’t change the external events of our life.
But we can choose to surrender to what we can’t change rather than resist it.
So in times when there’s nothing we can do to change our circumstances; in times we feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed; the most kind and compassionate thing we can do for ourselves is to let go of our expectations and surrender to what is.
Pay attention to everything about the people you converse with – their body language, the emotion behind their words. Offer them your full attention and resist the urge to drift off into thought about what to say next before they’ve even finished their sentence - just listen.
Each time you notice your mind has wandered, bring it back in a gentle, patient way.
Being fully present in the moment and paying attention through mindful listening is one of the best ways to connect and deepen relationships with your loved ones. Give it a try.