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      holiday stressThe holidays are often a happy and festive time, but they can also be filled with stress and conflict. There’s a lot of pressure during the holidays, which can be magnified when we are around loved ones.

      You might be surprised to find that one of the most effective ways to reduce stress during the holidays is to improve your communication – with yourself!

      All of us have internal dialog running in our heads. What this dialog says can make the difference between and explosion with Uncle Billy or a ‘meh, let’s have an eggnog’ attitude.

      To help you get the most out of the next few weeks, here are three common causes of stress and some suggestions about how you can shift that dialogue with yourself to have a happier holiday.

      Stress #1 – What Other People Think

      It’s natural to be concerned about what other people think. Our society places a lot of emphasis on the opinions of others. This causes stress and conflict, especially during the holidays.

      Most of us try to give the impression that things are perfect, which is only exacerbated by the media. But, the truth is that everyone is busy and stressed. If there is such a thing as “perfect,” few people would have the time and resources to do it. The reality is that everyone is just like you!

      Solution: Do your best with the resources you have. Realize (and remind yourself) that the only person you have to please is yourself. This is the absolute truth, not just a story you are telling yourself to try to feel better.

      If someone doesn’t like their present or your house isn’t clean enough, know that you did your best. Relax and realize that no one can control how you feel unless you let them.

      Give yourself permission to be less than perfect.

      Say to yourself: “I did the best I could with what I have.”

      Stress #2 – Unexpected Events

      Expect that unexpected events will happen.

      You don’t know exactly what they will be, but know that they are going to happen!

      The surprise guest that needs to stay at your house. A gift you received from someone and you didn’t bring them anything. That unplanned trip to the mall during rush hour. The package that will deliver after the holidays.

      I don’t know what your unanticipated event is going to be… but you can count on having at least one!

      Solution: Realize that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s what you do with it. You can’t control the world around you, so go with the flow. (Or try to, anyway)!

      Ask yourself this question: “What’s good about this situation?” If the answer is “nothing,” then keep asking the question until you discover the benefit in the challenge.

      Stress #3 – The BLOB Effect

      The blob happens when we lump everything together into the pile of “Everything That Needs to Be Done.”

      This huge pile then looks very overwhelming, fearsome, and intimidating.

      Solution: Break it down into small pieces so that you can see each task individually. If it still looks overwhelming, break it down into even smaller pieces. Then make a ‘to do’ list – and get busy!

      Breaking it down will make it manageable so you can take action on small pieces that will quickly reduce the size of the pile.

      Quickly you’ll be free of frustration and overwhelm and ready to enjoy the Holidays… the most wonderful time of the year!

      Say to yourself: “Piece by piece, this is easy.”

      You might also be interested in How To Deal With Difficult People