Coping with the Holiday Stress

The holiday season has many lovely qualities, but it also brings additional demands.  To make this a really nice and happy time of year you must learn to juggle like
you would in a three ring circus, which is what the holidays often feel like.  

We will all survive the holidays, so there is no need to panic or indulge in the blues.  There are a few things to keep in mind to make them easier.  These are the
“Rules of the Road” for dealing with holiday stress and the basic exercises for your mind to grow stronger and more flexible.  

Reality Check – consider exactly how bad are your problems; like is the economy affecting you personally right now.  Sure if you have a stock portfolio it might
be down, but were you going to use that money now anyway?  And if you don’t have one, how is it going to affect you?  Instead, focus on what you do have that
is positive, materially, socially,  and spiritually to keep things in balance.

Censor it – block out some or most of the negative information you are being exposed to.  You have the freedom to censor out any news that you do not want to
listen to.  Ask yourself this question: “Can this information serve my needs?”  If the answer is “no” then, tune out.   This also means avoiding going to the stores
when it is frenzy time.  Try to keep more positive and happy energy flowing around you.  

Prioritize – organize your tasks by importance first, then by what is urgent.  Imagine a ladder of things to do, the most important tasks at the top and less
important ones at the bottom.  The list may need to be re-ordered often, and remember that those things at the bottom of the ladder are allowed to fall off the list.  
Yes, you need to give yourself a little slack.

Relax and Let Go – take time out to stop the rushing and just chill out for a few minutes without anything in your head.  This is not watching TV, or exercising.  
This is at most listening to some peaceful music and looking out the window or just closing your eyes and recalling a nice vacation or something.  You certainly
know how to “hold-on” this is about learning to “let go” which actually is effortless, just being calm and resting.  This does recharge the mind and body.

Refocus on the Positive – this is a very simple idea that can change your life.  The key is to monitor yourself and what is grabbing your attention.  If you focus
on anything negative, the problems, worries, or stress, just stop and refocus on the opposite, positive stuff.  This is a habit you can develop because every time
you refocus, it gets easier the next time.  To identify what are the polar opposite emotions or attitudes to the negative ones we often experience, visit my website
and peek at the Polarity Shifter (bottom of the front page) it instructs you how to do it.  

Keep in mind that when the stress levels begin to overwhelm you, stop, relax and let go, even if it is just for a moment.  Remember that your stress response
(feeling nervous) is just an alarm telling you to change directions, so avoid the negative and go in the positive direction.  Also stay aware that your stress levels go
up with a lack of sleep or food, so get plenty of both.  Here are a few more things that help bring back the balance during the holidays: I enjoy connecting with old
friends that I haven’t spoken to in a long time.  Dig up your old address book and see who might be interesting to connect with.  Make some extra time to spend
with your family and friends beyond the planned events.  I like to write a special toast for these occasions expressing my gratitude for all that I have been given
during the past year.  

You can juggle!  Have fun throughout the holidays and the juggling gets easier.  You do not have to be perfect at it, especially when you realize that most of the
things you are juggling are not going to break if you drop one.  The holidays are a time to celebrate, rejoice and give thanks.  May you and yours be healthy, happy
and enjoy the holidays with good cheer!

Dr. John Ryder is a psychologist and author working in New York City.  
Check out this website for lots of valuable information:
Dr. John Ryder, Ph.D.
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The New York Optimist
February 2009