Keeping Your Balance in Holiday Stress

 ‘Tis the season to be happy and joyful.

Yet, as we move deep into the season, I speak to many people who have a love-hate relationship with the holidays, and others find it downright miserable as they grapple with memories of the past that come up for review every year at this time.

If you find yourself feeling this way, awareness and acceptance are great healers. We can’t always change a situation, and we certainly can’t change other people. But we can choose how we spend our time, who we spend it with, and in a challenging moment we can take a deep breath, settle down and make a conscious choice about what to do next.

What are your Christmas / Holiday triggers? Are they huge or have they become more manageable over the years? Whatever their size, when you get triggered you’ll be happier if you accept your difficult feelings as normal, and let them live side-by-side with your happy, loving, joyful feelings. Feelings aren’t logical, and we’re completely capable of having more than one feeling at a time, even when they appear to be in conflict.

My Christmas-Triggers have been whittled smaller over the years, but I still watch for them so they don’t catch me off guard. When I notice I’m triggered into a difficult feeling and I consciously let it be, then I’m at choice about what I do and how I interact with others. If I don’t notice, I’ll probably reach for a cookie, because that’s my default response to stressful feelings.

My auto-pilot thinks cookies are the answer to just about everything. In fact, cookies have been known to call to me from across the room! This is no small thing, and I worked very hard at one time to recover from craving sweets. I feel super healthy when I DON’T eat them and uber-awful when I do. What I’m saying is that when I ignore what I’m feeling and let my unconscious take control, I become out-of-control with cookies. So I’d rather be aware.

What is your default response to challenges at this time of year?  Do you numb out with too much food, or the wrong kind of food? Maybe you withdraw from being connected to people. Or you stay engaged but feel frustrated, irritated or angry.

If you want to be happier and feel your joy as well as your frustration, then let go of your expectations of people. Your mother, your sister, your uncle, your friend… what if you were to accept the things they do? The very things that usually make you cringe and react. Yep, you can pretty much count on Uncle Harry dominating the conversation. Your sister probably still wants to know why you aren’t married yet (or something equally none of her business). Your mother will likely treat you like you’re 15 years old. Or whatever it is in your family. Accept it.

I can assure you that holding expectations for people to behave in a certain way is a recipe for unhappiness. Accepting their behavior doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like things to change. Of course you would! But now it’s a preference and your happiness doesn’t depend on anyone changing. It comes from within and you can feel downright amazing and joyful that way!

Let me know how it goes this year, okay? If you feel inspired to share, please leave your thoughts below. Everyone learns from everyone else that way. I promise I’ll share if you do. 🙂

To Acceptance and JOY!

Mayana Devi

4 thoughts on “Keeping Your Balance in Holiday Stress

  1. Remember that your positive and negative feelings are one “package.” You can’t experience real joy if you can’t feel sorrow; nor can you find happiness if you’re busy running from sadness. The amount of pleasure and meaning you can get out of your relationships is directly proportional to your capacity to feel the pain of loneliness, just as you’ll never know of the pride in your accomplishments as long as you avoid the anxiety of taking risks or the shame of failing. The philosopher Nietzsche said that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. That holds very true for grieving, but only if you let yourself work with—not against—all the feelings and thoughts come as a result.

    • So true, Norman. It’s key to accept ALL our feelings. Don’t cover them with other feelings, don’t cover them with food or with anything else either. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

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