Finding music among the madness – 3 simple tips to keep calm and thrive this holiday season

stress resizedIt’s begun already.  The holiday roller coaster of shopping, wrapping, planning, cleaning, decorating, cookie baking, inevitable weight gain, and impending financial fallout in the new year.  Did I forget anything?  The American Psychological Association has reported that during the holidays, people’s main causes of stress are “lack of time, “lack of money, and “pressure to give or get gifts.”  Oh, don’t forget the added negative emotions of fatigue, stress, irritability, sadness, anger, loneliness, and yes, bloating.  Have I completely bummed you out yet? But wait, there’s good news!  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Below are three simple music-related tips that can help you and your loved ones to maximize joy, decrease stress, and maybe – just maybe! – eliminate that pesky bloating.

3 musical tips for kicking this holiday season’s butt (in a good way)

  1.  Rock your holiday playlist.  Whether it’s listening to a killer mix in the car on the way to the mall (like HIMYM’s Barney’s playlist here), or embracing the Christmas cheesiness and belting out some tunes with the fam (like this great mix here), you better know what music will get you going so you can get things done.  I start playing the Christmas tunes on Pandora and my iPod typically the day after Thanksgiving.  Do whatever floats your boat and is appropriate for the activity (for tree decorating and cookie baking, I highly recommend Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Once Upon a Christmas” – but only if you’re prepared for some uber cheese and nostalgia.  Oh, and *don’t*sacrifice your workout regimen to get everything done!  If you quit the gym and pick up where you left off on January 2nd, I guarantee you you’ll feel the wrath of the holiday bloat – and be sorry you had to tackle the gym with all the other New Years Resolution-ers.  Try to keep your regular (or slightly modified) workout regimen going throughout the holidays as best you can, and if need be create a new workout playlist (Pinterest is a good place to start) to keep you pumped up and pumping iron.
  2. Dance, gosh darn it.  Do you dance like Elaine from Seinfeld?  Is anyone really going to care when chances are they’ve got a pint of eggnog in them and won’t remember the night before with the utmost clarity?  You’ve probably had some invites for holiday shindigs, be they for work, family, neighborhood, or friends.  I’ll bet you any money (unless they’re vegan!) that those parties are going to have ooey gooey finger food out the wazoo.  I’m not saying don’t munch on some holiday goodies, but cut the munching with some dancing and frolicking, which will boost your endorphins (similar to a workout would) and balance out some of the caloric intake.  Make sure to drink plenty of water in between all the eggnog and champagne.  Didn’t get invited anywhere?  I refer you back to Tip #1 – create a playlist you love and dance yourself silly for a few minutes in between tasks.  You will feel better!
  3. Laugh.  That’s right, laugh.  Laughter has been shown to boost the immune system;  protect the heart by improving blood vessel function and increasing blood flow; increase endorphins; and be a great workout for your abs and your core.  Find (or start) a Laughter Club near you (they exist), and brush up on some great jokes for those holiday parties.  What does this have to do with music?  Lots.  Experiencing music as a connected group is not only empowering, it also as a rule elicits a bunch of laughter we didn’t even know we had inside us.  One of the first activities in my drum circle programs is to do an icebreaker that gets people laughing.  Laughing can put people on equal footing with each other and help tear down the walls we subconsciously build around ourselves through body language.  Laughter is universal, and it’s the simplest way to keep up those spirits during the holidays.

Are you ready to tackle this holiday season with an arsenal of simple ideas?  By now you should be ready to breeze through the holidays with your favorite songs, dance moves, and jokes at the ready.  What else works for you during the holidays to keep your sanity intact?  Post your favorite songs and musical activities below for the benefit of others!  (oh, yeah, and let us know if you eliminated that pesky bloating thing)  Contact me if you’re interested in bringing in some drums for your holiday shindig!

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