Even though the holidays are a joyous time of year, they can also be filled with all sorts of stress and anxiety. How that manifests itself is just as varied as the number of holiday songs played on the radio. Oddly enough, anxiety can be just as monotonous. How many renditions of Jingle Bells can there possibly be?
The Variations of Holiday Stress
It’s common to be experiencing the same type of stress each year, regardless of our personal development or situation. Maybe it’s that family member that you just don’t quite get along with. Or the dreaded conversation about politics or religion that inevitably occurs around the dinner table. Maybe your stress is in the preparation of the holidays either around food, presents, church or social activities. Or perhaps it’s a reminder of a regret from the past that still nags at you.
Regardless of your variation of angst, the reason many have a love/hate relationship with the holidays is that it tends to repeat itself every year.
Breaking the Cycle
I’m not going to pretend that breaking the cycle is an easy task. Some people’s anxiety about the holidays can have some very deep seeded thoughts that cannot be addressed in a newsletter greeting. But allow me to offer a simple 3-step solution.
The first step is to be self-aware of your feelings. The stress you feel doesn’t begin in a vacuum. It’s attached to a story you’ve told yourself over time. The origin of that story may have gotten lost over the years, but the feelings still remain. By stopping for a moment and recognizing your feelings, you begin the process of remembering the original story of those feelings, and therefore can begin rewriting that story for a different result.
The next step is to give yourself the permission to experience the feelings. Often times we’re so busy trying to squash the feelings, fighting the anxiety, that we lose sight that the feelings are there for a reason. Those feelings are in place to act as a protection against a perceived danger.
Allow yourself to just feel the feelings without judgment. Don’t try to rationalize them or dismiss them as unimportant. Just allow yourself to have the feelings.
Change Your Brain
Lastly, allow yourself to breath. Take a step aside and change your brain chemistry by doing Mindful Breathing. Breath in for a count of 5 and breath out for a count of 7. Repeat this process 6 to 7 times. Mindful Breathing allows you to refocus on the present moment instead of getting caught up in all the things you’re telling yourself about the situation you’re in. Try it. You’ll find it’s impossible to think about anything else except breathing.
This is obviously not a cure for anxiety. But it is a good coping skill to have when the moment gets to be overwhelming.
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Here’s hoping that your holiday is a stress-free as possible. May you have a joyous season and a Happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2018.
All the best,