Handling Your Holiday Stress (Wrapped in 5 Easy Tips)

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A solution-focused, light-hearted approach for handling this season’s anxieties comes with a tangible payoff.  You choose to be happy. Yes, but in these troubled times? And with THAT family coming over?

By following these 5 tips, you can improve your ability to focus on what matters and enjoy your holiday.  (I’ve teased you a bit last week with bits and pieces. I send similar type articles via e-mail only about once per month, so sign up!)

1. Check your mental baggage.

We all have memories from past holidays. A lot of us haul around a hefty load of stress connected to the holidays of the past. According to Mental Health America “memories” account for close to 50% of all the sources of holiday stress. The problem is we don’t realize it. Remember after that one run-in with your mother-in-law, you vowed to never cook a casserole again for the family dinner, yet here you are en route to another one. . . with yet another covered dish and a sour mood.

And some of our New Year’s Eve memories/dates aren’t so magical and joyous as the ’40s movies portray.  Imagine having mandatory Stress Security Check Points stationed here and there, complete with uniformed guards who would require you to pass through Mental Detectors (no, that’s not a typo.) Imagine being scanned with Attitude Wands (like the ones they use in airports to detect metals and other forbidden objects), only these wands would check for what’s weighing down your mind.

2. Tap into your “personal control panel.”

This controls what happens in your mind. Remember to “Play,” but skip the “Fast Forward,” because, as Gandhi famously said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  Also, “Fast Forward” can lead to “self-fulfilling prophecy” scenarios in your head like, “Oh I know what’s going to happen: I’ll buy too much food; I’ll buy too little food; the store will run out of food.”

3. Practice the fine art of patience.

Practice “Wait Lifting.” This is the ability to wait and have patience in today’s 24/7, frenetic “now” culture. Patience is how you handle the wait of the world. By starting with light waits – not getting frustrated when the computer doesn’t boot up fast enough for you, or the traffic light takes too long to change – you can work up to medium and heavy waits.

We work in businesses where we cultivate long-term clients. Those with the most patience are the most successful business owners. Your families are your oldest long-term clients. Practice lightening the wait. You transform your perspective and get more out of life when you retrain your brain.

4. Know what you can and what you can’t control.

While we pride ourselves on being in control, it’s critical that we understand what we can and can’t control. The list of what you can control includes what you think, what you say, what you feel and do, what you put into your mouth, and what you do to your body.

Here are some things we can’t control during the holiday season:
• you can’t invite your cousin without your cousin’s wife.
• you can’t invite the wife without THAT banana pudding.
• the relatives you visit have no guest room, and you have to sleep on the pullout bed with the saggy mattress in the path of the only bathroom.

5. Make full use of your “Internal Whistle.”

This means what it means in football.  To stop the action, the whistle blows.  We need to take a deep breath and take stock before letting a stress trigger or a whiney nephew make you go nuts and say something you’ll regret.

And before you scream at your aunt for using her very best crystal when she knows at least six children under the age of three will be running by her table for two hours before the meal, blow your internal whistle and take a deep breath.

At the end of the day, and holiday, it comes down to cultivating the rare quality of perspective, and bringing a “light take” on stress, so at least the stress doesn’t last as long. During the holidays, besides decking the halls, be sure to play the deck you’re dealt and find your trump card. It may be that you are still alive to celebrate. Remember: there are at least 10 ways your holiday table is better than a hospital bed. Trust me. I know. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.  So have a merry month ahead, and get into the New Year’s spirit.

As you snuggle up with your loved ones, you can chuckle at my latest Blog Talk Radio broadcast about male/female differences. The link is http://bit.ly/sSBsDQ  - I start speaking about 4 minutes into the broadcast. Enjoy!


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