Lessons for Handling Stress During the Holidays – and Beyond

Here we are once again in the thick of the holiday season.  I scanned the literature for articles that deal with holiday stress, hoping that there’s something new out there that people haven’t seen a million times, but I didn’t come up with anything new. The advice remains: get enough sleep, exercise, set realistic goals, take breaks from all the activity, plan ahead and make lists. What I did find, however, is this little gem of an article (attached) that addresses five very simple lessons for living.  This article is not so much about the holidays, per se, but about how to maintain strong and ongoing connections and I believe each of these basic principles addresses issues that often get magnified during the holiday season. The lesson I took away from them is to calm down and let things be.  For me, at least, this has always been a hard lesson for me to live.

To summarize the lessons quickly: Lesson 1 tells us to avoid trying to fix others, and instead focus on making changes to ourselves that will improve the relationship. During the holidays the little quirks of our loved ones can become particularly difficult to handle because we’re already stressed.  If we can remember this and remember that we have quirks too, we’ll probably feel better with our loved ones. Lesson 2 tells us to trust the innate goodness of our children and know that our love is enough.  It’s often our own insecurities that cause us to over-parent our kids rather than support and help them along.  Lesson 3, for those seeking a life partner, is to seek someone with values similar to your own.  The excitement of a relationship with someone totally different is exhilarating, but a lot of times it doesn’t last. Lesson 4 is to maintain your connections with friends!  This can’t be overstated.  Our computer-based social networking is great for staying in touch with a lot of people but we really need those in-person, supportive connections on an ongoing basis to healthy and strong all year long. Finally, Lesson 5 builds on Lesson 2 and reminds us that lasting love is not just romantic and sexual love.  It takes hard work and open communication and is not always fun, but can lead to a deeply rewarding life.

Take some time to read through the article and remember, that the best advice during the holidays is the same as the best advice throughout the rest of the year.  Happy holidays to everyone! http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201208/lessons-living

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