This is not war; it’s the holidays!

Life is busy, and it seemingly never slows down!

So many of us feel pulled in a dozen directions at once during this season. Maybe work, school, and family obligations pile on layers of pressure. Perhaps “to do” lists and tomorrow’s worries also impact sleep. Stress and anxiety leave us feeling overwrought and overwhelmed by all we have to accomplish. Is there anything to slow down this hectic pace and restore peace of mind?

Take heart. With a commitment to positive change, self-care, and support, there are ways to step back and stay calm, despite everything that life throws at us.

1. Let Go of Expectations
In the “fast lane” of life, we put a lot of expectations about what the day/week/month/year is going to look like. Yet, life doesn’t always adhere to our plans and schedules. When thrown a “curveball,” do you accept the change well or remain rigidly attached to your expectations? If you’re often overwhelmed by uncertainty, most likely it’s the latter.

Try to tap into little more flexibility. Acknowledge and loosen some of your expectations. It’s possible to feel less overwhelmed the more you accept change and embrace what is happening right now.

2. Develop a Morning Routine
When you wake up in the morning, start your day with a calming morning routine. Give yourself enough time to prepare for the day. Trying to rush and get out the door only adds to anxiousness and overwhelm. Consider these ideas to feel more prepared to cope mentally and physically:

  • Wake up at a consistent time daily.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast and eat slowly!
  • Do some stretching exercises or yoga.
  • Journal, meditate, pray, or read something inspirational.
  • Sip a warm beverage that is soothing yet caffeine-free.
  • Take a morning walk or sit by a window as you eat or drink. Nature is soothing.

Of course, it helps to be willing to adjust your routine as needed. Just keep in mind that starting your day with intentional self-care can improve your perspective and foster a better mindset overall.

3. What to Do First When Stress Does Occur
If things start to get stressful quickly, use mindfulness to slow down and stay calm. Notice your emotions and physical responses. Take slow, deep breaths to deliver much-needed oxygen to your brain and body. The rhythm of your breath is naturally comforting and soothing. After only a minute or two, you feel calmer, more present, and more equipped to take on the challenge before you. Go easy on yourself. With time and practice, though, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can feel centered again.

4. Don’t Take it Personally
When you feel stressed, often, it is because something affects you on a personal level. This could be something someone said, or something you witnessed, or even something worrisome you heard on the news. Of course, you can’t eliminate this, but feeling like you are personally affected all of the time certainly doesn’t help you stay calm.

Consider designating time just for you without outside influences and certainly no TV, radio, or internet. This brief respite from the rest of the world can help you to refocus on yourself and contribute to slowing down in general.

5. Be Conscious of Engaging Others
It’s easy to get so caught up in your fast-paced world that you tend to ignore others around you. Feeling overwhelmed and overwrought, you just don’t notice your partner, your children, your family, or friends. Remind yourself to look up and reach out routinely.

When you are mindful of others, you can better engage them and demonstrate gratitude for those relationships. It becomes easier to slow down as you look forward to meaningful connections. Overwhelm, and your concerns fade a bit as genuine interest grows in another person and their experiences. This also allows you to create stronger bonds with deeper relationships that provide support when you need it.

Finally, feeling overwhelmed and overwrought is often a result of unbalanced or misplaced priorities. When you realize that you can slow down and feel calm with a few strategic choices, your overwhelmed feelings may soon shift to a sense of empowerment.

If you do find that you could use some extra support setting new priorities, establishing boundaries, and making changes, consider time with a counselor. I am available to help you build a future that is less exhausting and more exciting again. Please contact me soon for help.