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Dealing with Holiday Stress

I was talking to someone* the other day who confided to me that they “hate” Christmas.
Hate is such a strong emotional word that I always want to ask for clarification. Why do you hate it? What does that mean?  What could cause someone to hate a holiday?
“I hate all the pressure!”
“What pressure?”
At this point, they looked at me like I had a lego set growing out of my head.
“The pressure to buy gifts, cook elaborate meals, hang out with family I don’t really like, and not gain a pound. It sucks.”
I looked at them and asked one of my favorite questions. “What if you didn’t have to do any of that?”
Back to the legos out of the head.
But the truth is that no one has to give in to any of that pressure. We don’t have to buy gifts, let alone big gifts. It’s OK if we gain a few pounds, Jillian Michaels aside.
You can choose to not hang out with family that you don’t like. We can choose to not let the things that bug us, bug us.
I know this is counter-intuitive to what we are told by almost everyone and it goes against what we believe about our own level of control.
That doesn’t change the truth of it.
One of the best ways to deal with holiday stress is to look at how we are responding to the stress.
A favorite saying is “the problem is not the problem, the problem is how I am responding to the problem.”

If buying gifts is stressing you out, I’m curious about why. Almost everyone I know says that they don’t believe things matter and yet, they stress over gifts as though those things do matter.

If gaining a few pounds is stressing you, tell me why it’s stressing you out. What happens if you gain a few pounds?

Let’s end one myth right now while we’re at it. No one makes you feel guilty. No one makes me feel guilty. My need for their approval and wanting everyone to like me might make me feel guilty but that’s a me problem, not a them problem.

Mommy guilt, Daddy guilt, Family guilt, Daughter guilt, son guilt; that’s all on the person choosing to live that way.
The key to dealing with holiday stress is to deal with what I can deal with and make tough decisions about what I can’t control.
Living a congruent life is the best way to avoid being stressed. Living a congruent life means that I live in such a way that my actions line up with my values.

What’s causing you stress about the upcoming holidays? What can you do about those situations? Let me know in the comments.





*This person is not and never has been a client*

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