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  • Marcy Kocher

Holiday Stress and Overwhelm

How are you doing?

Now is about the time holiday stress and overwhelm start to kick in.

Overwhelm is when your brain believes some version of this is too much.

Chronic overwhelm can lead to cognitive fatigue.

When we experience cognitive fatigue, we start to shut down by getting confused, irritable, or depressed.

We may engage in numbing or escaping behavior, checking out, and getting less done, which creates more overwhelm and ultimately steals our joy.

Many of us dread the holidays because of this cycle.

This is far too common for my liking.

So, Let’s make this year different and create a new normal.

Today, I’m offering some suggestions that just might protect that beautiful mind and heart of yours and help you experience more joy this holiday season.

Stay organized and plan ahead as much as possible.

Start with a thought download.

Get all your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

Use paper and pen.

Writing slows your brain down and helps you process in three ways - you’re thinking, writing, and seeing.

The slowness of the processing helps to combat anxiety.

Make a list of lists, such as menus, groceries, gifts, activities, dates, etc.

Then, make your sub-lists.

Keep all your lists in one place, like your phone, a notebook, or a holiday folder.

Lists are excellent ways to overcome overwhelm because it helps your brain to relax.

Now that you have it on paper, your brain doesn’t have to keep reminding you of everything that needs to be done, and that saves mental energy.

Break responsibilities into smaller tasks.

Schedule the tasks in a planner/calendar.

Decide on a date to have it all done so you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

December 1st is my goal.

Leave some margin.

Don’t schedule every minute of the day.

White space in my planner brings me peace.

Schedule self-care first.

Self-care is usually the first thing to go during busy times, and it’s when we need it the most.

Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

I promise it will make everything else easier.

If you’re having difficulty getting started, start with the easiest tasks and create momentum.

Ask yourself how you can make a task into a fun activity.

Try including others, play music or favorite movies, light candles, etc.

Set boundaries on work time.

Use time blocking and timers if necessary.

One of my boundaries is to make sure I have at least one weekend day with no plans.

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s essential to my physical and mental well-being.

Yes, even during the holidays.

If you prioritize it, your brain will figure out how.

Say no to comparison, perfectionism, and guilt.

No explanations are necessary, just no.

Say no to things you don’t want to or need to do.

Delegate and ask for help when possible.

This is easier when you let go of comparison, perfectionism, and guilt.

Watch your self talk.

Be kind and talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend.

Notice when your brain offers thoughts such as, this is too much, I’ll never get this all done, I have to…, I don’t have a choice, etc.

Instead, choose thoughts such as, this is doable, one step at a time, I’m doing great, and I don’t HAVE to do anything.

We always have choices, but sometimes, we must remind our brains.

If you love to shop online, sign up for emails from your favorite places now to take advantage of sales. Then unsubscribe so you aren’t overwhelmed with email!

And finally, be grateful and have a sense of humor.

I hope this helps.

If you have other ideas to reduce overwhelm and stress, I would love to hear them.

Always feel free to reach out. I love to hear from you.

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