holiday stress management snowman

This is the time of year when I usually white knuckle it through jam packed days filled with holiday preparations and obligations. This is when I usually sleep erratically and smile minimally. This time of year is a push for me. It often feels like have to instead of want to, which makes me sad. It’s supposed to be joyous and celebratory. Because all three of my children have birthdays around the holidays and my extended family is far away, this season becomes a time of intense scheduling and infinite details.  As I mentioned in my last post, Intuition, Feeling, Men, Myers-Briggs and Snowblowers, intense scheduling and details wear me out. The logical and step by step section of my brain must kick it up a notch around this time of year, which is a nice challenge, but also an energy drain.

But this year feels different.

I still have all of the normal expectations to meet (shopping, wrapping, shipping, holiday cards, baking) plus a few added bonus stressors — financial uncertainty (house still for sale), one relationship softly ended and a steady stream of household repairs — but somehow it’s all good. I’m relaxed and enjoying the ride.

Why I’m not losing it this holiday season

1. I took a class doing something I love. As crazy as it was to schedule a week-long training session during the month of December, it was also a huge energy boost. I attended and completed certification ChristmasVactionHousetraining to become a Myers-Briggs practitioner. The instructor, fellow classmates and subject matter all lit up my curious mind like the Griswold’s house. I’m still pumped as I order training materials and think about all the ways I can apply this new knowledge. I get to help people gain awareness and validation about their personality type! I get to help people honor their temperaments and enhance their relationships and I have the tools and comforting structure to do it thanks to decades of research and application by Myers-Briggs. Learning and gaining competence do wonders for the spirit.

2. I asked for help. The somewhat new responsibility of clearing the driveway of snow is intimidating to me. Last year I shoveled my way through the regular dumpings of snow so true to Minnesnowta. I also felt my heart sink every time the forecast called for more than three inches of accumulation. This year I was pro-active and bought a snowblower to make life easier (?). The only problem — I was scared of the damn thing. I had no idea how to maintain and work it. I had to purchase a decent-sized (read: not  simple) one because my driveway is large enough to require it. Machines are concrete and logical and require deep concentration for me to understand. I would have to meticulously digest the owner’s manual and then pray all went as it should. I envisioned hours of apprehension and comprehension, not to mention the logistics of getting it bought and safely home. So I bit the bullet and deferred to my friends for help. One female friend helped me with what type to buy. One male friend went with me to be testosterone in the room when I purchased the snowblower. One other male friend actually made it fun to learn about and use the machine. He was like a kid with a new Lego set or a BB gun – all geeked about the engine and beast-like snow throwing capabilities. His enthusiasm was contagious. At one point we stood shoulder to shoulder in my garage staring at the Craftsman machine like it was a piece of art. He empowered me by showing me the ins and outs of how it works and then turning me loose on the driveway. I messed up and shot a load of snow all over the side of the house/windows/lights but instead of getting frustrated I laughed. I left the misplaced snow there because I think it’s funny and we should laugh at ineptitude occasionally. Again, competence and learning are a healthy rush I highly recommend.

3. I changed my diet. I haven’t eaten cereal in over two months!! In my mind I am imagining its heavenly texture and satisfying consistency right now, oh god I love Kashi, but I can abstain because I feel so much better without it. I have reduced, by more than half, the number of simple carbohydrates I ingest daily. I have added protein (turkey, chicken, BACON, eggs), good fats (butter, avocados, nuts, coconut oil) and vegetables (particularly greens) to my daily menus. I feel more alert and my energy doesn’t wane as much throughout the day. I also take more supplements now — primarily ones focused on mood balance and energy restoration, so amino acids like tryptophan and omega 3s (fish oil). I have a cup of tea every yogi teaafternoon. My favorite tea is by Yogi and has an ingredient called L-theanine in it which promotes calm focus. Perfect! I am working on all of this with a trained/certified nutritionist.  I don’t recommend you go out and figure this all out yourself. Your health is crazy important and highly individualized.

I want to give you one example of how what I eat has affected my well-being.  I started wrapping presents the other night at 10 o’clock.  I told myself I was only going to do a few because it was already late. I got into a complete zone, watched two episodes of Mad Men and finished all my wrapping, even the tiny little gifts that go in stockings. Afterwards I felt soothingly energized. Normally, a set up like that would have left me worn out and crabby.

4. I sleep better. I believe the supplement I take before bedtime (GABA an amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter) promotes a relaxed mind and muscles. I have also been practicing a form of meditation when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning.  Think of three ‘wins’ you had that day — anything small or big that gave you a boost in mood and then think of three wins you anticipate happening for the next day. I owe this little exercise to Jeff Walker. It’s his idea. Sleep is a miraculous elixir. Like a magician who removes knots from handkerchiefs without touching them, sleep removes the knots in my mind without my consciousness. I always find resolution and peace in the morning after a solid night’s sleep. Quite often ideas and answers come to me as I emerge from the haze of sleep.

I hope this trend continues.  I kinda like this joyous stuff.;)

How do you deal with the commotion of Christmas? Do you have any introvert strategies?