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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 366 : Five important areas for de-stressing this holiday season

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Today, I cover five important areas to focus on to help you de-stress this holiday season. More at

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Five areas to help you de-stress this holiday season

This time of year can be rough and more so this year and last. Below are five areas I've worked on to help de-stress the holidays.

1. Forgo gifts and de-clutter your life

I talked a little about this last week but over the past year or so, I've forgone the tradition of gift giving. It wasn't easy as I enjoy the practice but as I've gotten older, I find that I have an aversion to collecting more stuff. Moreover, gifts can complicate relationships and friendships with expectations of reciprocity, stress over equal value gift giving, etc. Letting go of this tradition has not only removed a big stresser but it's reduced the amount of stuff I accumulate. If you have family or friends that you regularly give gifts to, have a conversation with them about whether to continue the tradition. You may find it's a two way stresser that both of you will be happy to let go of.

While you're at it, decluttering your life can be a great way to clear space from your closet, garage, and your mind. Now is a good time to donate, gift, or sell those items that you don't use anymore. Think clothes, electronics, books, even framed paintings and posters. If you decide to go the sell route, check out my Poshmark miniseries. It's a great platform for selling clothes and has now widened its sales categories to homegoods and electronics.

Don't forget to take a look at your "digital clutter." As we approach the end of the year, it's a good idea to review those monthly or annual subscriptions. Cut or cancel the ones you're no longer using or aren't saving you time or money in the long run. I cover this more on episode 359.

Finally, as you start selling and saving, you're increasing your cash flow. Think about investing that extra money to work for you. For more on this, check out the investing basics miniseries.

2. Time

It's easy to get pulled in many directions this time of year. From end of year / quarter work obligations to holiday get togethers and sending out those last minute cards and gifts. As you declutter your life in step 1, you'll start freeing up some time which you can invest back into yourself. Below are some ways you can make the most of this.

  • Meditation: This has been a huge life changer, benefiting my physical and mental health while helping me develop greater patience, insight, and the ability to just slow down. I highly recommend the Calm app, which has free and premium programs. Calm also has a great YouTube channel with lots of free meditation programs. The 10 Minute Mindfulness is my favorite and a regular part of my daily start-up routine. Check it out below:

  • Turn off alerts: Last year, I made a commitment to be less tethered to my phone. One way I did this was to turn off unnecessary alerts including social media, email, and texts. Alerts put us on a constant reactive state of mind such that we end up chained to our devices. By turning off alerts, I can now allocate focused time on email, social media, and texts. You may not be able to turn off all of your alerts depending on your job or obligations but there are definitely ones that don't require you to be on-call 24-7. Shut those off.

  • Limit social media time: Related to the above, limiting social media time can be key to improving your overall health and happiness. As I've shut off the alerts for Twitter, IG, etc., I am better able to spend more focused productive time rather than let social media become a constant distraction. For some of you, you may decide to quit (or never start) social media altogether. Assess whether you need to be on there and why. Then figure out the the minimum amount of time you need to get the maximum benefit and spend no more than that.

3. Physical activity

  • Recapture lost time: Next to meditation, the biggest lifestyle change I made this year was becoming an early morning person. Going to bed and waking up early has allowed me to maximize my productivity and find extra pockets for exercise, meditation, and uninterrupted work. If you find that you're squeezed for time to exercise or accomplish your goals, check out episode 360.

  • Exercise: Physical activity is more important than ever as many of us are indoors far more than we used to be. Incorporating even 20-30 minutes a day can have immense short and long term health benefits.

  • Outdoors: As part of your physical activity, allocate time outdoors. Find a local park, college campus or a simple pathway around your neighborhood and make it a routine or habit to walk it. This can be your primary exercise routine or a supplement to it.

4. Positive sounds

We are so inundated with media, be it videos, podcasts, sound bytes, etc. that it can get a little maddening at times. As part of recapturing your time, incorporate positive sounds into your life. Music and audiobooks are a big one for me. I'm a huge fan of Libby which gives you access to free audiobooks from your library. For more on this, check out episode 332.

5. Connect

In lieu of gifts, and as you recapture some of that time that normally gets sucked up in the holiday shuffle, make sure to stay connected to friends and family. We're still navigating the complexities of get togethers so use technology to stay in touch if you're not getting together in person. On episode 317, I cover ways to have a virtual Friendsgiving via video conferencing tools. Then again, you might be burned out from all of those Zoom calls so now is a good time to get reacquainted with the old fashioned phone call. If you're more of a texter, throw in a voice note every now and then to mix things up. This will make your messages more personalized. Your voice has an intangible quality that text alone can't replicate. You can also create video or audio greeting cards in place of gifts and physical cards. This can be a more fun way to let someone know you're thinking of them and save you trips to the mailbox (plus the stress of getting those cards out on time). For more on this, check out episode 44.5.

While the holidays can be a stressful time for many, we can make choices to alleviate or eliminate individual stressors. It's a great gift for you and those close to you.

Check out the Moving Forward mini-series collection

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