Dealing with Holiday Stress
Aruni Nan Futuronsky, popular life coach at Kripalu, talks to Kripalu Online about the stresses of the holiday season and how to take care of ourselves in the midst of it all.
What do you see as the most common sources and side effects of stress that people experience around the holidays?
What a great question—and a no-brainer. Holiday stress lands strongly in the realms of family, food, finances, and expectations. For many of us, dealing with family over the holiday season can be a source of imbalance—wanting people to be different, wanting our family members to see us with fresh eyes. Simply put, holidays tend to bring up expectations and pressures that we might avoid during the rest of the year and can upset our normal routines. And food, food, food! We are exposed to so much celebratory food garbed in the “you deserve it” rationale. Finally, many of us get swept up in the process of giving that surrounds many holidays and end up spending more money than is realistic for us, trying to match our caring with a price tag.
As a result of all this, we lose ourselves and become physically and emotionally exhausted. Worried about parties, family, and appropriate presents, we miss the essence of the holiday spirit.
Why is it important to take care yourself at this time of year?
The winter season, rich with Chanukah, Kwanza, Christmas, New Year’s, and Solstice, is an auspicious time to renew, reconnect, and come into deeper and more conscious relationship with ourselves and our loved ones—difficult if you’re running around stressed out the whole time. It’s a great time to be present, to celebrate, and to watch the light return to the day. Also, as the winter season is ripe with colds and the flu, keeping in balance during this time of the year helps prevent illness.
What are three simple strategies that you can recommend to help people them get through the holiday season less frazzled?
Keep the focus on yourself, in a positive and healthy way. Maintain your lifestyle boundaries regarding food, bedtime, and exercise. If you keep up your daily practices, you’ll enjoy the season more fully.
- Commit to the essence of the holidays. Give yourself and your loved ones time to celebrate in whatever way works for you: a quiet evening at home, a favorite holiday video, a walk in the moonlit evening, or something you all enjoy together. Deeper than the structure of habit and ritual, find the holiday’s meaning for yourself and enjoy it.
- Be smart and sensible about gift giving. Put a limit on your spending. Better yet, make some presents—break out of the box and create something to give your loved ones that is separate from a stressful price tag, something that represents the love you hold for them in a deeper and more authentic way.
Aruni Nan Futuronsky, a life coach and senior teacher, has been teaching since 1969 and has served Kripalu for more than 17 years. She is a certified professional-level Kripalu Yoga teacher and is on the faculty of the Kripalu Healthy Living programs.© 2007 Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved.