November 17, 2010

Holiday Stress Management Advice

Holiday stress? What stress? The holidays aren’t supposed to be anything but festive and light-hearted.

Unless, of course, you live on planet Earth. Then you’ve got stress to deal with.

Depending on your situation, the stress will range from being broke to enduring uncomfortable conversations with relatives you only see once a year. Are we having fun yet?

Of course, not all the stress comes from unhappy situations. If your kids are coming home from college, for example, you might be ecstatic and stressed at the same time. So much to do! So little time! You wouldn’t want to cut out the stressor in this case, so your challenge will be to manage the stress itself.

In my unofficial role as the queen of stress management – I get the crown because I run a business and spend every day hearing difficult tales from unemployed people – I’ve picked up some strategies. Take a look to see if any of these can be added to the strategies you’re already using. It might be that you just need a little boost to get you over this hump.

1. No rehearsals. If you let your mind run over the same spot over and over, you’re bound to find yourself in a rut. So tip number one is to resist the urge to go over all the possible scenarios in your mind a hundred times. Just accept that the real event could be difficult, without trying to imagine all the ways that might be true.

2. No calamatizing. Is that a word? Here’s a question for you: Given the same set of facts, you can choose to interpret them positively or negatively – which do you choose? In my experience, people tend to the negative by a huge margin, which is puzzling since it’s much more pleasant to live on the sunny side of the street. Here’s how this plays out: So you’ll be giving everyone a small gift this year instead of something big. Why assume this will be a disaster? You don’t know, so you might as well assume your gift will be a hit.

3. No big deal. Whatever happens, the holidays are really just a few days out of the year. Don’t give them too much weight and remember that there’s always next year if this year is a bust. Then just relax and enjoy yourself, regardless of the circumstances.

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