“Help! The hol­i­days make me stress out!”

Does the sea­son of non­stop fes­tiv­i­ties make you feel fraz­zled? Our pros share ways to take the edge off and grow closer to loved ones!

Woman's World - - Ask America’s Ultimate Experts -

Set the stage for calm

Do less to bond more Go ahead and ask for help this hol­i­day: When oth­ers pitch in to prep, they feel more in­vested in the fes­tiv­i­ties and bond faster. “Just jot down sim­ple tasks, such as set­ting the ta­ble or putting away guests’ coats, on slips of pa­per,” says psy­chol­o­gist Me­lanie Green­berg, PH.D. “Place them in a bas­ket by the door, and as folks file in, they can grab a slip and start lend­ing a hand!” Laugh Hav­ing too-high at past hol­i­day “set­backs” ex­pec­ta­tions can trig­ger need­less stress, cau­tions holis­tic health ex­pert Alice Do­mar, PH.D. Your Rx: Find strength in past “fail­ures.” Think of when some­thing didn’t go as planned but worked out great. Maybe you dropped the pie on the counter but were able to turn it into par­faits— such un­scripted mo­ments make our hol­i­days unique and re­mind us of our re­silience. Chan­nel your idol We all play a cer­tain role at fam­ily gath­er­ings, ob­serves com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­pert Daniel Shapiro, PH.D. “I of­ten re­vert to the quiet teenage son,” he laughs. “If you find your­self type­cast in a role you’d like to break out of, pick some­one you ad­mire to em­u­late. For ex­am­ple, you could chan­nel Oprah by ‘in­ter­view­ing’ loved ones about their lives. Act­ing as if you were some­one else shifts you out of the part you nor­mally play, boost­ing your con­fi­dence.”

Grow closer all sea­son long

Short-cir­cuit anx­i­ety Stressed in the midst of all your to do’s? “Take a deep breath and ask your­self what you value most,” Shapiro urges. For ex­am­ple, if cre­ativ­ity is one of the things you hold dear, make that your fo­cus and talk to loved ones about pos­si­bly ex­chang­ing home­made gifts—it’ll melt stress and boost your bud­get. Says Shapiro, “Hom­ing in on the thing that gives you pur­pose stream­lines to-do’s and cre­ates mean­ing­ful mem­o­ries.” Share this emo­tion “Ap­pre­ci­a­tion is so pow­er­ful— yet so sim­ple,” says Shapiro. In fact, the sen­ti­ment is proven to help mend rifts both large and small. “For ex­am­ple, if you tend to dis­agree with a loved one over the hol­i­days, you could say some­thing like, ‘I so ap­pre­ci­ate our con­ver­sa­tions be­cause I learn a lot from them, and I just want you to know that if I dis­agree, it’s not be­cause I don’t love you.’” Prom­ises Shapiro, “It makes peo­ple just melt.” Say a “hands-on” grace Of­fer­ing a prayer or shar­ing a few words of grat­i­tude this Thanks­giv­ing or Christ­mas prompts spe­cial­ized brain cells called mir­ror neu­rons to cue feel­ings of em­pa­thy. And say­ing grace while hold­ing hands en­hances the ben­e­fit, says Green­berg. How so? Hu­man touch is so sooth­ing, it in­stantly calms the ner­vous sys­tem, un­leash­ing waves of happy brain chem­i­cals that bring you closer!

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