Stress-Management Tips for Hallowthanksmas

November 1st is here, folks. Time to get over that Halloween candy hangover and start thinking about the next two celebrations of the famous American trio of Hallowthanksmas. So get yourself a big glass of water, pop Halloween’s final aspirin, and let’s start getting your ch’i together for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

hallowthanksmas2

Stress is a huge concern around the holidays. Of course, stress is a yearly struggle of which you must constantly stay afloat, but I do believe November & December warrant a nod as the most stressful months of the year. Whether your troubles are money, loneliness, social anxiety, addiction, family discord, S.A.D., or all of the above, you need a plan to get your ch’i together for the holidays.

Identify why YOU need a plan?

We all want to close our eyes and picture ourselves as our very best renderings. We sense the holidays coming and we maybe give a passing thought about how things will be different this year – better handled – then we don’t actually think about it any further.

You know that’s not going to work though, right? If you want things to be different this year, you’ve got to actively participate in the change. So if you’re sick of fighting with aging Aunt Susan or tired of drinking too much at your company party and actin’ a fool, then the first step is to identify the stuff that stresses YOU out.

Step One: Get clear – write down what you DON’T want

Write it down. Make a 3 column spreadsheet and in “Column A” write down what is stressing you out when you think about this year’s holidays. Here are some examples to get your own inner dialogue rolling:

  • I don’t want to host Thanksgiving. It’s too much work and I always spend too much money and I regret it.
  • I don’t want to have my drunken brother-in-law over for Christmas this year. He’s offensive and I’m tired of feeling victimized.
  • I don’t want to be alone this Thanksgiving. I can’t stand the loneliness.
  • I don’t want to max out my credit cards on gifts.

Great. A start. So those are the negative things you want to avoid which helps you elicit emotional engagement so you can begin to problem solve. The next step is re-write your list in the positive light of what it is you DO want.

Step 2: Write down what you DO want

To populate “Column B” take each one of your stressors and spin it – what would the perfect world look like for you if you had a handful of Santa’s magic dust? You may need to really think about these, so take your time. This step is most critical to get right, so let’s get back to our examples to see how to do this step:

  • I would like to politely decline to host Thanksgiving this year but offer to my family that I will bring the best green bean casserole this side of the Mississippi if one of them would like to host this year instead. (I will need to be ready – and okay with it – if no one jumps in to handle the task in my stead.)
  • I would like to have zero booze at my holiday party this year and see what my family is like sober.
  • I want to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones, even if I have to travel to get there. Or I would like to spend this Thanksgiving serving food at a soup kitchen.
  • I will not spend too much money! I will decide how much to spend before I set a virtual foot in amazon.

There are, of course, several different solutions you could be after. Think about, and choose, what makes the most sense for you. For example, if you’re tired of your drunk brother-in-law, your perfect solution may be dis-inviting him to the party instead of not serving alcohol. You will need to listen to your own heart to determine what it is you really DO want.

Step 3: Write down what you will need to do – what actions to take – to get what you want

In this step you will populate “Column C” in your stress-free spreadsheet. What actions do you need to take, or what do you need to do, in order to make the things happen that you want.

  • Mass email my family members and explain I need to skip the role as honorable hostess this year.
  • I need to call my bro-in-law and tell him that this year’s party is strictly alcohol- free (and yes, that includes pre-gaming. So if you want to pre-game, don’t come or you’ll be asked to leave).
  • I will call my kids in Pennsylvania and see if this year is a good fit for me to visit. If they decline, I will call my local soup kitchen and see that I make myself useful by signing up to help them out this Thanksgiving.
  • I will set a holiday gift budget and I will stick to it. I will inform my husband that a budget has been set, and he too must stick to it.

Make the calls, send the family emails, and take a deep breath. You are on your way to creating and enforcing healthy holiday boundaries. And if you can master the art of holiday boundaries, you can certainly master the remaining 10 months out of the year.

Step 4: Take the steps you defined

Now you have to do it. This is the hardest step because you can’t sugar-coat the fact that you have to participate in your own holly-jolliness. You have to take the actions, set the boundaries, make the phone calls, and send the family emails that you wrote down as key to decreasing your holiday stress. You have to fight for your own health and right to be stress-free, because unfortunately, no one else can do this step for you.

Here’s what your spreadsheet might look like in the case of our examples:

excel-spreadsheet

Sit back & enjoy the stress-free harmony

Phew, you did it! You stood up and took control of your right to health and enjoying a less stressful Hallowthanksmas! You got your holiday ch’i together, and that is not easy to do. I would certainly raise my spiked eggnog glass and toast to that this year. Cheers!


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Faye Bonomo
Faye Bonomo has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Science and an MBA from Colorado State university. She spent several years pursuing the western medicine approach to wellness, but found it came up short in some areas. Faye now promotes a balanced approach to personal wellness – one that seeks to balance a body’s biochemistry AND a body’s natural flow of life-force energy. She is the founder of AcuThrive.

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