Holiday Stress Management

snowman_1484  snowman in hong kong park by flickr user paulwan8

It’s holiday time and many are expressing that they are struggling at this time of the year. What seems like should be a happy time, can actually be a time of stress, hardship, frustration, grief, and upset.

The question arises: how do I manage holiday stress? Do I spend it with family, friends, or by myself. I know a single woman who spent Thanksgiving by herself and found it quite enjoyable, while for someone else this could feel like no one likes them, they have no family, or they are all alone. Many spend the holidays with their families out of tradition or obligation. This might work well for some but for others it may not. Maybe there is someone in the family that just rubs you the wrong way.

So let’s look at some holiday stress management techniques you can use during the holiday time.

Let’s start with the one when someone rubs you the wrong way and how you want to handle it this year. Can you have a different experience if you just take a little time to come up with a new way of dealing with that person.

Start by seeing the scenario that makes you crazy. See the other person and notice what happens inside of you. Do you feel like your heart is racing, it’s hard to catch your breath, that your jaw clenches and your hands make a fist?

Take a moment and ask yourself, how you would like to handle this situation. If you could just be with that person, knowing they are who they are – without changing them in the movie, how would you like to behave? What would help you handle being with this person differently? What are you saying to yourself and what could you say different to them? See if you can start a conversation that is pleasant and it’s going to create conflict – Example – politics, money, religion, etc. where you know you have different viewpoints and talking about it never feels good and supportive.

See what it would feel like to let things slide off of you as if you had a coat of Teflon on. How does that feel vs. letting the others statements come at you like barbs and hurt deep inside.

Another thing to play with in this scenario is to notice how much you are drinking.

Alcohol can make things worse. It can make people happy for awhile but if someone crosses a line they can turn angry, bitter, resentful, argumentative. It can lower inhibitions and people say and do things they normally wouldn’t do. What would it feel like to not drink and to take care of yourself.

Notice how much responsibility you take on this year. Are you doing to much and then resenting others? Are you laying back and others are resenting you? What would it feel like to have clear boundaries of what feels right to you and what feels wrong to you. Can you not try to make everyone happy, and let go of perfection? See what causes you upset and try to find a way to handle it differently.

The last point is to take time and find gratitude in your life. It can be about something big or small, but take time to feel gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for – a beautiful meal, time to rest, the sun is shining, you have friends, you’re wearing your favorite sweater. Find whatever you can and feel the gratitude. Maybe there is even something about this person that drives you crazy that has some good qualities that you can reflect on.

Once you have explored this whole scenario. Play the movie in your minds eye seeing yourself handling this person differently. What does that feel like in your body? Is it easier to breathe? Has your jaw relaxed. If not, keep working on the movie until you can see it where you feel good inside. This can take time, but it will be worth it. Play this movie over and over in your mind’s eye, as if you were an Olympian practicing that perfect jump. As you practice this, it will change you from the inside out. Try it this year and see what happens.

Happy Holdiays