6 Holiday Stress Tips

How’s the timing on this video for you? I
have 6 holiday stress tips from the shrink who expand your life. I could
probably get away with just one if it’s this one. Can the shoulds. Can them. Get
rid of them. We too often put expectations on ourselves that overwhelm
us. Have us feeling frustrated because we’re not where we should be. Should, be.
We’re not doing things we should do. Should, do. Do you see where the should
creeps in all over the place? What if we were to take everything that’s on your
should list just throw it out. Toss it out the window.
No more shoulds. What would happen? Oh, you might not get all of that stuff done? But
it’s okay because it’s not a should anymore. “Oh, but Dr. Paul, I want to do this.” Oh,
well that’s different. Do you want to do this stuff? Are you
doing it because you should do it? One of the most stressful things about
holidays is the shoulds of the expectations and the things that you’ve
set up in your own mind as requirements. And really they’re not. Check out the
difference between choose to and have to. Choose to and have to. If you choose to
do something, how do you feel? Totally different. If you have to do something, then that’s when it starts becoming a burden, right? Can the shoulds. All of this
is by choice. And we know that because we can ask this question. This is kind of a
psychological trick actually. What would happen if I didn’t? Now, your mind might
jump quickly to “Well, but I have to.” Or “It’s tradition” or “everybody’s expecting
it”. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I get it. And what would happen if you didn’t? This
introduces a possibility to your mind that maybe you could opt
out. Not that you would. But if you don’t. Are you there because you should be
there or because you choose to be there? A whole different game psychologically.
That tip in and of itself is going to take care of most of the holiday stress
that you could experience. But why stop there? Because there’s more that we can
do. Here’s the next tip: Breathe. I know. You breathe all the time. But I’m talking
do some intentional slow deep breathing to calm down the limbic system response
in your brain that triggers the fight-or-flight mode.
Honestly, we’re talking about holidays here, people. Holidays. Those are times
that should be joyful and fun and pleasant, right? Why are they not? Because
we get into our fight-or-flight mode. Fight-or-flight is simply your brains
way of taking care of you and keeping you safe. You’re not really in danger. So,
if you’ll do some slow deep breathing, and I suggest in through the nose. Nice
and deep and then just hold it and check for any stress. You know in your neck or
your shoulders. Particularly and just kind of let that go. And then out through
the mouth nice and slow. You want to think about twice as long to exhale as
you did to inhale. That’s a mechanical way to calm down the limbic system
response in your own brain and get you back into a mode that allows you to do
this. Stay in the present. Stay here. Stay now. Most the stress that you encounter
as you get into the holidays is in anticipation of something that’s not
happening right now. You have to prepare for the party or for the event that’s
coming up. Or for the relatives that are coming from out of town and what are
they going to say and what are going to do. See, it’s all in the future.
It’s not right now. When you do the breathing, it puts your brain in a
condition that you can actually focus on and enjoy the present right here, right
now. What are you doing in this moment? Let’s say that you’re preparing holiday
cards to send out to all of your friends and relatives. People that you knew 20
years ago. Alright, you’re filling out the cards. Are you feeling stressed
because they might not get out in time or are you enjoying the act of
physically writing a person’s name that you care about? What if you could be in
that moment? Enjoy writing the name. What if you’ve got a whole bunch of dishes to
do because you’ve been doing some baking and preparing stuff for the holiday and
it’s so stressful? What if you could enjoy doing the dishes? Be present in
that moment. Because life is to be enjoyed now. Not after all the stuffs
done. Well then too. But now is all you got. So, being present, fully present with
whatever it is that you’re doing. You know in the English language, the word
present has at least 3 meanings. It means here in this space. It means now in
this time. And it means gift because you give someone a present, right? Or you can
receive a present. Present means all 3 of those things What if you could
be… Give yourself the gift of being here and now. Doing what you are doing and
enjoying it fully right now. It’s a huge powerful tip. Now, really practically, I
can’t leave this one out. Eat well and get regular exercise. Take care of the
equipment. We sometimes toss this aside during the holidays. Not a good idea to
stop exercising during holidays. This is for your mental health. Keep your
body moving. Keep the blood flowing and eat well too. Now, I’ve got a little
disclaimer here because during the holidays, typically, we have foods
available to us that are not usually available. They’re traditional, they’re fun.
They’re usually a little higher sugar, higher carbs, higher fats. Right? You know
what I’m talking about. What if you were to eat well including
the treats? And I’m not saying only eat carrots and celery. I’m saying
enjoy the treats. Be present with the treats. Don’t over indulge. That never
works out well for anyone. But enjoy them in the present in the moment. This is
going to increase your enjoyment of the holidays. Take care of your body but
don’t deprive yourself of some of the fun things that come along as part of it.
That’s going tO help your stress level. Traditions are an important part of
holidays. Traditions are sometimes meaningless. I remember a story that my
friend told me as he was writing his book. His name’s Garrett Gunderson.
Killing Sacred Cows is one of the best personal finance books I’ve ever read. In
this book, Garrett tells about a tradition. And in this tradition, when
you’re baking the holiday ham, you cut off the ends of the ham before you put
it into the oven. And everybody’s wondering, “Why do you cut off the ends?” “Oh,
I don’t know. Because that’s the way mom did it. Well, let’s ask mom?” “Mom, why do you
cut off the ends of the ham?” “Well, I don’t know. That’s just the way my mom did it.”
Well let’s ask grandma. “Grandma, why do we cut off the ends of the ham?” She’s like, I
don’t know why you cut off the ends of the ham. But my pen was only this big. I
had to cut off the ends to make it fit. Sometimes traditions get perpetuated
without the meaning behind the tradition. And the story kind of illustrates that.
What are the traditions in your family, in your culture, in your home around the
holidays? Can you find the meaning behind the traditions? Because when you do that
it adds a level of richness and flavor to the holidays that you miss, if you’re
simply trying to carry out the traditions without the meaning. Now, one
final thought. And this is a powerful way. I think to approach life not just in the
holidays but at other times. Turn your focus from in here, inside of me all
about me out to others. This has a powerful impact on you psychologically
and also socially. When you turn your focus out from yourself, you feel less
anxiety. That’s one reason to do it. It increases the meaning and the purpose in
your life. That’s another great reason to do it. And it blesses the lives of other
people. Because now you’re looking for ways to serve them. Some of my most
memorable holidays include meaningful service that we chose to do together as
a family. And that’s not self-focused. That’s on how can we help or lift or
enrich someone else’s life? Turn your focus to them and just see what happens.
At the end of that video, we talked about turning your focus to others. Who can you
think of right now who would benefit from seeing this video? Will you share it
with them? That’s my invitation to you.

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