How to Handle Holiday Challenges

Dennis Grounds: Life Coach, Personal Trainer and Healer

Most people place a great deal of significance and meaning on the holidays; however, much of this emphasis is often based on shopping and material things. Our culture and media focus on the hottest gifts you must have, as if that is going to bring you long-term happiness and joy. Others try to ignore the holidays altogether. Here are some challenges of the holidays and some Grounds For Life tips to bypass the stress and pressures. After all, the season is really an opportunity for love and possibility.

Challenge #1: Pressure and Stress
Pressure and stress are both manufactured by us. You choose to allow stress. Think about it—is pressure or stress tangible? No, it’s a made up conversation we have with ourselves. We choose to stress about what is not right, feeling overwhelmed, not having enough time, lack of money and gifts. When we experience stress, we have a feeling of being out of control. However, we can be carefree and effortless when we choose to be. It is simple and requires a commitment to being aware.

Grounds For Life Tip:

  • Notice when you get pressured or feel stress and simply stop where you are.

  • Take a breath and ask yourself: what would serve you best in this moment?

  • When you’re feeling out of control and overwhelmed, notice if you want safety, control or approval. Identifying where your stress originates from can free you up.

Challenge #2: Family
Family members have known you a long time. Going home to be with family usually represents our past. There are all sorts of conversations that haven’t been had: the good, the bad and the ugly. Even though you have created a life of your own as an adult, it doesn’t mean that some of our old patterns we had growing up with family have disappeared. In fact, being around our family is the time when others will push our buttons. This can lead to spoken and unspoken judging and assessing.

Grounds For Life Tip:

  • Take time out to be with yourself daily. Go for a walk, work out or meditate.

  • Laugh about your history or redirect the conversation.

  • Remember, you cannot control other people but you can manage your own thoughts, feelings and body.

  • Don’t react. Instead, diffuse the energy.

Challenge #3: Food
Food can be a place to hide from unspoken thoughts and feelings or to numb out your problems or challenges. Most people use the holidays as an excuse to gorge. The extremes between gorge/starve are often the places most people find themselves over the holiday. Some creative people do both (first I will starve and then I will gorge). Every year we eat too much and feel bad about ourselves. We think, “but it was all just laying there for me to eat. I can’t pass it up.” Or we starve ourselves in the face of all the abundant food and nourishment. This year, create a balanced and sustainable relationship to food during the holidays.

Grounds For Life Tip:

  • Eat when you’re hungry and only take what you need.

  • Eat untill you are full. Get up and walk away.

  • Wait for dessert.

  • Have seconds if you feel like it after asking yourself: “Is that enough? What hole am I trying to fill with all this food?”

  • Be gentle and slow.

  • Notice if you are eating to distract yourself from family.

Challenge #4: Shopping
Shopping can be deadly to your mood and your bank account. Most people want you to give them a gift if you want to and can afford it. No one is sitting at home wondering why they didn’t get something from you. Gifts cannot make up for the love or closeness you don’t have with someone.

Grounds For Life Tip:

  • Be conscious when you are shopping.

  • Don’t buy gifts because you should or have to.

  • Avoid impulse buying.

  • Set a budget and stick to it.

  • Everyone loves love. Write someone a love letter from your heart to theirs. Love is the best gift you can give and you don’t have to shop for love.

Consider that you have a choice about how you feel, where you go and what you do during the holidays. Be careful about being victimized by your family, our culture or the media. Ask for help and support from those around you. If you get tired, stressed or feel pressured, stop and rest. Remember it is just another day of the year; it just has a big label on it. I invite you to create every day of the year as if it where a holiday. Acknowledge someone, take time out for yourself, have fun, and give the gift of love to others. After all, we can’t take all the material gifts with us when we leave this planet, only the memories and love. So live, love and feel good while you can.

Dennis Grounds, a personal trainer and life coach based in Los Angeles, is the creator of Training Grounds for Life, an exclusive luxury studio in the heart of L.A. Grounds combines cardio circuit, functional and core training into his teaching, along with Pilates and certified life coaching. This month we asked Grounds to focus on the physiological stresses the holiday months can bring up in athletes and non-athletes alike.

Originally published in January 2011

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