Creative Holiday De-Stressing

How about a little more freedom and fun this holiday season?

Thanksgiving and Christmas being so close together can create an intense holiday season for many of us. Holiday Stress!

I hear from a lot of people who find holiday traditions turning into expectations, pressure, obligations, and increased stress. Family gatherings can amplify “dysfunctional” family patterns. Financial worries may grow in the face of this big spending season.

Remembering the “reason for the season” may help. Using all of the stress and anxiety-reduction tools you’ve found here and other places can help you manage through challenging holiday moments.

But I’m not going to talk about that because those things are fairly obvious.

I’m looking at more creative ways to transform holiday stress so you can experience the holidays differently…so you can think and feel differently about holiday stressors.

To feel different you have to think different.

Thoughts create feelings. Your feelings are not random, even though it seems that way sometimes. They arise from your thoughts.

So here’s some creative ways you can change your thinking about the holidays if you want to feel more fun and lightness in the season:

    • Create an “Old Year Resolution.” Give yourself a focus between now and the end of this year. Why wait until January to focus on something positive? Finish out the old year with a focus or an accomplishment other than “just making it through the holidays.” Your Old Year Resolution should be something that distracts you a bit from the holidays themselves, putting a positive focus elsewhere. Paying less attention to a holiday can help reduce the stress of it. Dwelling on it increases stress.

      Resolve to enjoy a cup of tea before bedtime each night. Focus on extra cuddling with your pet. Resolve to take short walks on your lunch-hour — or maybe resolve to simply TAKE a lunch hour instead of working through it. Decide to read an enjoyable book by the end of the year. Resolve to lose 2 pounds by the end of the year. Decide to finish something that you haven’t been able to get to (careful on this one, the project needs feel mainly like fun rather than work).

      Think about what New Year Resolutions you might find inspiring, and break that down into something you could start doing over these next 6 weeks.

    • Please Yourself. Holidays often include many things that feel like “have-to’s” and that contributes to stress. I challenge you to examine your thinking about the “have-to’s” in your holiday season.

      I was going to have my whole family over for Thanksgiving dinner because I am on vacation that whole week so I thought I really “should” since I had some extra time. As I imagined how that would be, it didn’t feel good. I discovered I didn’t really want to do it. So I’m not doing it. I decided to please myself instead of trying to please anyone else. We’re doing something entirely different. And everyone will survive! And I’ll be pleased!

      Pleasing yourself means CHOOSING what you want to do rather than doing things out of obligation (have-to) or fear of what others will think, say, or do. Even if you choose to do something stressful because Aunt Mary will really appreciate it, you are still CHOOSING it. There is freedom and lightness in the choosing. Choosing sure beats feeling like a victim of a bunch of have-do’s. You have more choice in most things than you think. And other people will get over things more than you think they will.

      To help you make a choice, try this:

      CHOOSE what you want to do this holiday season

    • Build your Attitude of Gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal throughout the season and make sure you write in it at least once a day. Make a bullet list of things you are grateful for. Include every little thing you can think of, especially those things that are NOT related to the holidays. Maybe you’re even grateful that this kind of holiday season comes only once a year! Put it in there. Thankful for 8 hours of sleep last night. Put it in there. Grateful that a meeting was cancelled. Grateful to get a manicure. Put in in there. Grateful for a warm home. Grateful for a moment of quiet. Grateful for your pet. Put it all in there.

      Looking for the things in your life that you’re glad about helps ease the stress of the season. It helps change the focus of your thinking.