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Tips for Letting Go of Stress During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of great stress and anxiety for most people.   We are forced to plod through heavy traffic, wade through crowded stores with too few sales clerks, incur unwanted financial burdens, and attend family gatherings fraught with unresolved issues and conflicts amongst members.

Thus, it comes as no surprise when we repeatedly hear the proverbial, “I just dread the holidays.”

I have a solution for much of your holiday anxiety:  Let Go of Control!

If you do, you will enjoy the holidays much more—or at least dread them much less!  If you are wondering how control impacts enjoyment of the holidays, let me explain.  Holiday pressures exacerbate our tendency to rush, to press, to resist, to direct, to expect, and to criticize—all tension-creating control devices.

Wouldn’t you enjoy yourself much more if you were able to take it easy and feel everything would work out okay?

You can—by letting go of control.  Here’s how.

Holiday Decontrol Tips

1.  Lower Your Expectations. Try not to expect too much of others, especially family.  As I’ve cautioned in prior posts, high expectations often lead to disappointment and resentment–and harmful control actions.  It is much better to have little or no expectations of how people will be or act.  (after all, they’re likely feeling holiday pressures themselves).  And don’t assume or anticipate conflict or discord with others based on past history and experiences.

For example, if you are concerned about sitting at the same table with your wayward brother or sister at a Chanukah or Christmas dinner, don’t make any assumptions—good or bad—about what might happen; instead, trust that you will be able to disengage (i.e., let go) from any problem that might occur, and enjoy other parts of the reunion.

2.  Be Patient. Allow holiday “currents” to progress and evolve naturally, rather than pressing for resolutions.  Life is always in a constant state of motion—shifting and ebbing and flowing—even more so during the holiday rush.  Focus on being calm and grounded, and wait for the currents to flow your way.   Then engage them intuitively, rather than forcefully.  To better do this, plan some alone time for yourself each day, whether to meditate, journal, take a short walk, or just do something fun.

3. Keep Things Simple. Don’t complicate things by over planning and over thinking.  Also, don’t fret about all the “what ifs” and “what could happens.”  Worrying only plants the seeds for those things to happen!  Instead, trust that things will work out as they were intended.  By keeping things simple you will save considerable time and energy, and reduce stress and tension for yourself and those around you.

4.  Address and process your “Personal Truths.”  Addressing our unwanted feelings is a critical component of reducing the compulsion to control.  I devote an entire chapter on the subject (Embracing Your Personal Truths) in  Losing Control, Finding Serenity.

In simple terms, it is important to identify and process the negative feelings that compel us to control, such as fear, anger, anxiety, insecurity and the like.

For example, if you are feeling  anxious because of all the things you feel you need (or want) to do, rather than forging “past” your anxiety, take a few minutes to get in touch with it.  Start by trying to feel it internally, even physically.  Take some slow, deep breaths and really tap in to it.  “Embrace” it, if you will.   Also ask yourself how important is it that everything gets done “right now?” What terrible things might happen if you don’t?   The truth of the matter is that most things are not as important as we imagine or project them to be.

Though it may sound counterintuitive, so acknowledging and processing your stress and anxiety will lessen their “grip” over you.

If you try these “decontrol” tips I am confident you will experience greater enjoyment of the holiday season.   You might even look forward to them!

In closing, I would like to wish you a very peaceful holiday season.   And remember to,

Let It Go–and Accept “What Is!”


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1 Comment

  • Galen Pearl
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    So right. I let go of all the holiday expectations last year and it was a relaxing, stress free Christmas!

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