By Karen Rae, Founder of Balanced Life by Karen Rae® and Creator of The Signature Balanced Life Planner®
The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year. I’ve been able to create traditions with my daughters and truly enjoy special moments. Although the holiday season is supposed to be full of cheer, I recognize that this time of year can also be pretty stressful for many. There’s over-spending on gifts, crowds (and now precautions due to COVID), travel stresses and more. I’ve developed some ways to use the 5 Fundamental Areas of Life to help you stay balanced during the upcoming holiday season.
Finances: Stick to a Budget
Naturally, one of the biggest causes of concern during the holidays is also one of my five fundamental areas for living a balanced life: finances. If you find that your finances are beginning to cause you to stress, make a budget for the season and strictly stick to it.
There's no reason for the tradition of gift-giving to have to turn into debt. If shopping is straining your finances and stressing you out, find ways to cut back on the costs where you can. Try making DIY gifts (bonus: people may find this more heart-touching than a purchased gift). Think outside the box and give a different kind of gift this holiday season. (Also, our Signature Balanced Life Planner® makes an incredible gift!)
Even a five or 10-minute exercise session can improve your overall well-being significantly, both physically and mentally. It makes your body stronger and stimulates the production of endorphins, which can help combat stress.
If you think you don't have time for gym sessions and workout classes, make sure to #plan for exercise so that it becomes something you can accomplish. Just making time to stretch and take a few deep breaths every day can be very beneficial; breathing relaxes the nervous system and helps to lower both blood pressure and heart rate.
Faith: Balancing Body and Mind
Besides exercise, the most powerful way to release your body’s stress naturally is through prayer. Sometimes just the act of giving our stresses over to God can be uplifting enough to make all the difference. Additionally, numerous studies have found that prayer can boost the production of happiness hormones such as serotonin, which create a sense of calmness and well-being. And it doesn’t take long—few minutes of prayer is one of the most centering activities you can do.
Friends: Gather the Gang
Working out is a great way to stay sane during the holidays, but if you want to take your workout one step further, then invite some friends! This is a great way to get both exercise and friend-time in—especially if your schedule is super-busy and you have limited-time. A group jog is perfect for the cooler temperatures, but you can all join an online workout class together, too. Whatever it is, including your friends will definitely help you feel more balanced.
Family: Set Boundaries
Family is the most important thing to me. My daughters mean the world to me, as do my parents. I know that there are many people who would love to have a more balanced relationship with their family members. Make your family members aware of boundaries that are important to you—from conversation topics to planning your holiday time. If you can express your feelings with love and respect, they will most likely understand—and you will feel much less stressed.
Focus on People
The holidays are all about being together. Sit down, relax and enjoy time with those who are important and really matter to you. Re-establish harmony by accepting friends and family members as they are. Remember, the holidays are a hard time for some, while others truly love them. Try to make your compassionate and genuine presence your gift to others this season!
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