Reducing Stress during the Holidays By Kevin LaMar Sr.
The Holiday season is a time to relax, enjoy family, and to reflect on the blessings in our lives. Unfortunately, for many people, though, the holidays can be a very stressful and aggravating period of time. The difference is in choosing a perspective that will allow you to enjoy this time for the purpose intended.
Imagine you are dressed and on your way to your relative’s house for holiday dinner. As you walk through the front door, you hear the voice of someone you were hoping would not be there. Your uncle is inside, with a drink in one hand and loudly bragging about how well his business is doing. Around him are a group of family members, hanging on his every word. When he sees you, he stops talking to greet you and ask the one question you hoped no one would ask; “Did you find a job yet?” For the rest of the night, you sit in the corner, angry, embarrassed, and just plain aggravated.
This question was so sensitive to you that it ruined your whole night just because your uncle asked it. You can’t stop challenges from coming your way, but you can learn how to manage through them in the best way and realize they play an important part in your life. If you stay angry at someone, you are giving them way too much of your mental space and prioritizing them over your own peace of mind. This scenario may be different in your case, but it is important that you understand the impact it has on you and your ability to enjoy your valuable time you spend with family members that you may only see once a year.
There are some individuals in our lives that we don’t know what we would do without their interaction. These are the ones we look to for wisdom and guidance. On the other hand, there are individuals that I refer to as “spiritual leeches.” These individuals will drain another person of their time and energy, but are unwilling or unable to give and return anything positive.
This is when it is time to adjust your perspective and analyze your reactions to negative situations. Why is it that certain things seem to get under your skin more than others? Many times, family members and friends mean well, but they are will continue to do things the way they always have. It is much easier to change how you react to their behavior than to try to change a habit they have had for years and do not have a problem with. Pay attention to how you are reacting, because attitude is the one thing you truly have control over. If you see that you are getting stressed and upset, take time to regroup so you will not allow anything to have more influence over your attitude than you.
Here are a few practical suggestions that may help to avert a conflict or uncomfortable situation and give you time to compose yourself. These are also methods used in a program known as “verbal judo.”
1. Be aware of situations that could potentially lead to an argument and make every effort to avoid them. This is not running from a situation; this is wisdom.
2. If you are already in the mist of an argument or conflict, make a convenient excuse and leave the area immediately. I know this is easier said than done, but it nonetheless works and will give you the time you need to not make a bad situation worse.
3. Change the subject with the purpose of avoiding any disagreement or negative reaction by the other person. This is a method my aunt often used to keep the peace at dinner.
4. Openly offer ideas and seek ways to calm the other person and deal with the reason they are being so aggressive in the first place. A simple apology can go a long way in pacifying someone who is angry.
Remember the important issue is not what happens, but how you respond. Attitude is everything and attitude is directly affected by your perspective. You will make yourself miserable if you allow yourself to continually worry and look at things from the wrong perspective. Use conflict as an opportunity for you to develop maturity, strength, and character. Enjoy your holidays and don’t allow the trivial trials you will encounter to interfere with your focus of creating positive lasting memories.