Despite the messages of good cheer and happiness, the holidays can be a very stressful time for many people. As health coaches, we are very aware of the many ways that stress can affect all areas of our lives. Your clients may not be all that aware of the snowball effect stress has on their health and wellbeing, AND how it can be sabotaging their goals.
This is the time of year when you can offer tremendous support for people – not just with their diet and exercise routine, but also help them reduce their level of stress.

Let’s look at a few ways to help your clients survive the upcoming holiday season – they will love you for it!

Holiday Realities

Traditionally, the holiday season is a time of gratitude, giving, and love. We often see advertisements of picture-perfect families sharing a holiday dinner, smiling and laughing. Unfortunately, the reality can be quite the opposite for many people.

Holidays have become a source of stress for the majority of the population. Most people report increased stress during the holidays, due to a lack of time, money, and overly hyped commercialization of the season.

Obligations to family, friends and coworkers become a source of stress. Parties, cooking, cleaning, shopping, family gatherings and financial issues are all sources of stress for your clients.

The holidays, for some, have transitioned from happy to hectic.

Signs of Stress

Symptoms of stress are different for everyone. However, an overly stressed person can manifest the symptoms of stress in the following ways:

  • Changes in eating habits; either under – or overeating.
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Tension throughout the body
  • Falling back into bad habits such as drinking, smoking, etc
  • Low Immunity
  • Digestive Issues
  • Poor Judgment
  • Shortened Attention Span
  • Manic Behavior
  • Aversion to Social Situations

These are just a few symptoms of someone struggling with stress. If you find that your clients are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, be sure to let them know you are available to help them take a step back and find some balance. As you know, wellness isn’t just about eating right and maintaining physical activity. It’s about keeping the entire being balanced: physical, emotional, and mental.

Strategies To Succeed

If your clients are feeling stressed out, you can provide meaningful assistance during this hectic time. Here are 6 stress-busting strategies that can help.

First of all, let your clients know that this is a stressful time for many people, and gauge where they are with their stress level. You can ask your client something like “On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) what level of stress are you feeling right now?”  Most people tend to underestimate the level of stress they are dealing with, but anything over a 5, would be worth giving some attention.

Work together to determine the one or two biggest sources of stress, and see what ideas your client has for solutions.  Starting with something as simple as “What do you think would help with that?” or “That does sound very stressful, have you thought about ways that would help make it better?”   See if they can come up with the solution first, and if not, offer a suggestion or two, and see what they think.

Here are a few strategies your clients can put into place to help reduce day-to-day stress.

1. Breathe

This might seem like a no-brainer, but knowing how to breathe can keep stressful thoughts at bay. Deep breathing quells a rapid heart beat, balances high blood pressure and promotes a feeling of calmness. Practice a breathing regimen that focuses on breathing in through the nose, to the lower abdomen. Exhale slowly through the mouth. Your client can practice this technique anywhere, anytime.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to help your clients shake off holiday-related stress. Being mindful means practicing awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Mindfulness occurs when you take the time to know yourself. Ask your clients to identify what is causing them to feel stressed.

Try to obtain specific answers. If they answer, “The holidays are making me stressed,” try to dig deeper than that. Chances are that it is something more specific than “the holidays.” It might be the pressure to spend money they don’t have, or to socialize with individuals who cause them anxiety.

When your clients practice mindfulness, they are able to get to the root of why they feel stressed. Once the cause has been established, they are better equipped to keep stress at bay.

3. Walk It Off

Exercise is so important to staying stress-free. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that help us to stay focused, energized, and balanced. Studies have shown that a 10-minute walk is just as effective at keeping stress at bay as a 45-minute workout. Going for a walk, or taking a short yoga break, can help your clients to stay focused on their goals.

4. Say No

Saying no is probably one of the biggest challenges your clients will face during the holiday season. The endless barrage of party invitations, work obligations, volunteer opportunities and family events are enough to make anyone stressed out.

Help your clients to say no to unnecessary obligations by identifying what is mandatory and what is recreational. Work with them to recognize that keeping yourself balanced and stress-free is beneficial to them and to everyone around them.

5. Be Prepared

Food can be another source of stress, especially during the holidays – parties, family gatherings, and the barrage of ‘goodies’ at the office can be a huge challenge for your clients. Be sure to address this with your clients, and work with them to figure out a plan to prepare in advance. Ideas include: preparing a healthy dish to bring to a party, eat a healthy meal beforehand, bring a healthy meal and snacks to work so they aren’t as tempted to overdo it.

6. Do something enjoyable

Let your clients know that it’s perfectly okay (and important) to just take some time for themselves to do something that makes them happy – even if it’s just going for a manicure or massage. It can even be something as simple as taking an hour to enjoy reading a good book.

The holiday season is only temporary, and it is possible to get through it in a low-stress way; it just takes a little planning (and a few good ideas for how to de-stress).  I hope these techniques help your clients stay balanced over the holidays. Be sure to implement them into your life too!

What is your favorite stress-busting technique?

For more helpful tips and techniques for helping your clients, be sure to grab your FREE Discovery Session Guide. This free guide walks you through a short, initial client consultation plus the exact scripting to turn prospects into paying clients.

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References:

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body?page=2
http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response
http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety

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