The holidays can be overwhelmingly stressful. We are truly in the throws of the holiday season and you may already be stressed out. Here are a few easy ways you can take care of your relationship and yourself this holiday season:
- Use your nose. Take time to create a peaceful and stress-reducing space for yourself and family using aromatherapy, essential oils, incents, candles, or baked goods in the oven. Science backs up that focusing on your sense of smell can help promote and maintain a healthy nervous system. Use scents that have “feel good” memories for you. Or, find ones that are known to lower stress/increase relaxation (Lavender), and improve mood/increase energy (Bergamot).
- Remember to say “Please, Thank You, and I’m Sorry” to your partner. These simple phrases/words can really go a long way and make your partner feel appreciated. Hopefully, if you remember to take the time to appreciate your partner, he/she/they will begin to do the same in return.
- Plan Ahead. Commit as much time to yourself and couple-time as possible. The holidays can become all-consuming, if we let them, so be sure to plan time for yourself, as well as time with your partner for fun and intimacy. Discuss this with your partner, so you’re on the same page. Literally, add things to your calendar, so you don’t forget. Couple time. Self-time (read, meditate, walk, listen to music). Snuggle time. Sexy time. It can seem silly to schedule things out, but it’s better than letting them fall through the cracks.
- Go outside. Make it a point to be in nature as much as possible. Even when it’s cold and/or snowing, it is refreshing and helps your brain function better if you get some oxygen and time in the great outdoors. You could god a hike/walk with your partner or by yourself, or find time for both. If you don’t have a partner (and want one), you might consider joining a walking or hiking group (meetup.com is a good place to start) in your town as a way to get out in nature and maybe meet someone.
- Let go of expectations and breathe. You know who you are. If you set yourself up for unrealistic expectations around the holidays, and then find yourself disappointed more often than not, maybe this year you could try something different. Limit your expectation and try your best just to stay in the moment and be present (see below for one way to remain present).
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” ~ William Shakespeare.
When you find your mind floating into the future (having high expectations) or back to the past, remember that the body can’t time travel in the same way, so focus on your breathing.
Mindful breathing: Focus on the fact that you are breathing (we usually take this for granted) and notice where you feel the breath the most (it could be on the tip of your nose, your belly moving in and out or your chest rising up and down). Do your best to let your breath breathe you and not change anything other than bringing your awareness to your breath. Do not judge yourself when your mind floats away in a different direction, simply bring your attention back to your breathing.
Kimberly Atwood is a licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist in private practice in Princeton, NJ. She specializes in sexual health, intimacy and relationship issues.