How to Beat Pre-Holiday Stress

worry less now stressA lot of friends are saying their energy has deserted them, perhaps due to the shorter days and Daylight Savings in the U.S. And yet, there’s SO much to get done before the holidays.

And,  by the way, how can Thanksgiving be only one week away?? At this time of the year, we too easily fall prey to pre-holiday stress.

The thought “There’s too much to do!” puts us into a tailspin of worry. Then more negative thoughts follow, for example, “How can I get everyone to get along?” and “I’ll never find the right gifts!”  As the worries mount, our problem solving abilities fly out the window, leaving us even more tense and upset.

How can you overcome your own pre-holiday stress? Over many years of working with my own worries, I’ve discovered four life strategies to help you access wisdom and peace, even when the pressure mounts. They’re explained in Chapter 1 of my award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity and Connection.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFERS for “Worry Less Now:” 20% off with promo code 20LESSNOW or get 50% off your 2nd copy from 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving 11/22 through midnight Monday 11/26. Click here for both offers. [Also available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and e-book vendors.]

You may have pre-holiday stress around questions such as, “Which events are most essential for me and my family?” “Whom should I invite and when?” “How will I handle the shopping and mailing?” The best answers to such questions come from using these four strategies and their associated tools.

1. Get Honest. First, I need to  admit to myself that I’m a little rattled.  Years ago, my worries flew under the radar, unacknowledged.  I knew I was tense, but didn’t want to face it, so I used drugs, alcohol, overwork, or sex to avoid my feelings. Those are all dead-ends that stop growth in its tracks.

I gain self-honesty most easily when I can share my struggles with healthy friends. Journal writing helps too; when my fears are out on page, they don’t seem insurmountable. But I don’t stop there and wallow in my fears; I move on!

2. Claim Positive Power. When I admit that stress has taken me over, I turn to a power greater than my fearful thinking. I no longer have to motivate myself with fearful thoughts. Instead, my best guidance comes from a higher, wiser place.

You may be thinking, “Oh, man, here we go with that higher power stuff.” Power and wisdom come from many sources, and it’s up to you to find your own. You might use terms such as courage, God, universal truth, soul, providence, true self, angels—it doesn’t matter, as long as proves to be stronger than your fear. (For more, see “When Willpower Just Isn’t Enough”)

The trick is to trust that a powerful part of you is wise enough to handle the unknown challenges that arise around the holidays. To access this higher self, try praying, meditating, or immerse yourself in nature, beauty, or uplifting reading.

3. Choose Your Future. If you’re thinking your holiday challenges are just too much, it’s time to create assertive images of how you want to feel and act. For example, if you’re anticipating conflict and drama during Thanksgiving dinner, you might imagine the scene, and affirm, “I am civil to the others, and I can take a break or leave at any time.”

The responsibility for your own peace of mind rests squarely with you, regardless of other people’s behavior. So, as you anticipate thorny issues, continuously visualize how YOU want to be in those situations. But, just stating a desire isn’t sufficient; you’ll need to use specific practices to keep your mind on a positive track.

4. Use Growth Practices. I don’t know about you, but my mind goes first to the worst-case scenario (it’s trying to help me survive by anticipating bad things). That’s why I need powerful tools to change my thinking.

I love the image of my worries being “dissolved” in this affirmation by J. Sig Paulson of Unity. When I’m stressed out or in the grip of fear, I repeat it over and over. [As you read it, feel free to substitute your own word for “God.”]

“The activity of God is the only power at work in my mind, heart, and life. All false beliefs, all negative appearances are dissolved right now by the loving, forgiving action of God. I am whole, strong, and free as God created me to be.”

I also recommend connecting daily with your inner wisdom by meditating, talking with supportive friends, and walking outdoors. Your own tools for achieving peace of mind might differ, but they will always lower the volume of your worries and resentments so you can offer caring actions, thoughts, and words.

When doubts and pre-holiday stress threaten your happiness, these four strategies will allow you to make great decisions for yourself and your family:  1) Honesty: “Here’s what’s going on inside me.” 2) Power: “I claim courage and intuitive direction.” 3) Choices: “This is how I want to be, and I’m going for it!” 4) Growth Practices: “I’m actively connecting with loving power to dissolve my fears and gain wise direction.”

worry , recovery, sanity

Gigi Langer, PhD.  Based on her work in psychology and personal experience in therapy, recovery, and a variety of spiritual teachings, Gigi is a sought-after speaker, retreat leader, and award-winning writer and professor.  She co-authored five books for educators before releasing 50 Ways to Worry Less Now in early 2018.

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