What are the secrets to avoiding holiday stress?

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Answered by: Nancy, An Expert in the Manage your Stress Category
Beware of December. It has hidden traps that do not start to register until it is time to roast the turkey at Thanksgiving. That is when the alarm bells start to go off, first in slow motion and then louder and more strident. It begins as soon as the turkey sandwiches start coming out of the kitchen. By then everyone starts moving their energy and attention forward to that tricky month called December. For some it has morphed into holiday stress. So how do I avoid holiday stress?

Why do we get so wound up? We all hold in our heads the vision or sense of what it is supposed to be or look like. If those expectations are not met, if the reality that we hold up does not match what we are actually experiencing, then we just bought ourselves that ticket to ride. It is "all aboard" time for that emotional roller coaster, the December ride is coming around the bend and it could be tricky. Everyone knows that the holidays can be stressful. Lets take out a few of the components and get a close up view.

It is all about gathering around with the family to enjoy and celebrate. Yes, but what if family members are not exactly friendly with each other? What if they do not really relate during the year? Now they are placed into the pressure cooker of "lets all be happy with each other", when they are not. Families are not sweetness and light, only. Most have stuff in their closets that may spill out with the drinks, presents and celebratory food. It would be so wise to have those frank discussions somewhere back in October and not bring them forward to December.

Okay so now it is time to buy the gifts. It is a lovely gesture but does it provide a potential stress trigger? Yes, what if they don't like it? What if they don't receive it? Really, gifts are not just the movement of an object from one person to an other, they are symbolic of the movement of energy and love. The giver may get lost in the wondering of did they do it "right". Who defines "right"? The one who entered into the holiday season way back in November and now they are looking at how they think they are doing, verses how they intended to "do" these holidays.

Maybe you think that you should go all out this year, you have, after all for years. It is your style but is it your wallet's idea of a good time? Money, last I looked, is scarce now days. Do you have enough to do what you want and still be financially healthy in January or will your enthusiastic participation drop you even deeper into debt? Are you impulsed to try to match a friend or family member as you roll into the holiday spirit? If you know that you must apply the brakes will you feel disappointed in yourself because you can not keep up with the spending spree?

Stress makers, all of them. Feel free this December, this season of giving to do just that, give. Give to others. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, make a gesture to others with absolutely no reflection at all on the "how are you doing" expectation that you hold up for yourself. Simply, quietly and with gratitude give to an other and let the entire expectation of the way it is "supposed to be" wind down. Lets take the concept of holiday stress out of the month. Now the question of how do I avoid holiday stress should be a non-issue. Happy Holidays.

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