“It’s almost mid-December, and I’ve hardly done any shopping.”
“Why did I get stuck with the bulk of the holiday preparations — again?”
“There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
From family squabbles to traffic jams to lines at retail stores, we’re faced with curveballs every day. This time of year — with added responsibilities — it seems like those accelerate. And you can find yourself “on tilt.”
Does you blood boil when somebody snatches that parking spot out from under you? Or you get stuck with the carpool again?
Everyday stressors like these — and your reactions to them — actually hold the key to your peace of mind. It’s not what happens to us in our lives; it’s how we deal with what happens that determines how well things flow for us.
‘Tis the season
How are you feeling right now? Jolly, frenzied, excited, sad, lonely, overwhelmed — or all of the above?
And how are you coping? Kicking into overdrive, giving up sleep for the month of December, beating yourself up for not getting everything done, unleashing your stress on others or hitting the eggnog more heavily?
It may be time for a reality check. Consider a few of these tips, gleaned from my professional experience, as well as the Mayo Clinic and Psych Central mental health network.
Pushing your own buttonsTry jotting down a plan of action when any negative triggers come up this month. Family systems tend to repeat behaviors. Rather than allowing someone to push your buttons, think of ways to defuse a situation. Change the subject; stick with your boundaries. And resist the urge to push the buttons of others!
Changing the patterns
Sometimes we get so ingrained it’s hard to see any way out. Just the anticipation of coming events throws us into a tailspin. If you truly want to change patterns about holiday meal preparations and cleanup sessions, start early to make alternative suggestions. Rotate the cleanup crews by family members, for example.
Taking turns could go a long way toward easing resentment of those who are always working to clean up — and those who saunter into the family room to watch TV.
Making your own decisions
Sometimes it’s easier to go through the motions to keep the peace. If this is wearing thin on your sanity, though, consider opting out of certain activities. Just because “it’s always been done this way,” doesn’t mean it has to continue.
It may not be as hard as you think. Here are a few of my favorite phrases to try out:
“That just won’t work for me this year.” (You’d be amazed at how powerful this one sentence can be. Often, we tend to over-explain).
“Here’s an option I’d like to try this year.”
“Let’s look at a different schedule.”
Practicing random acts of kindness — with yourself and others
With all the whirlwind activities, have a few “mini-rescue plans” tucked away for yourself. It really doesn’t take much to steal away a little time for whatever restores your soul — a hot bath, listening to some peaceful music, reading something inspirational or taking a walk in nature. This will help you to hit your “reset button.”
There’s nothing like helping someone else, as well, to take your mind off your own challenges. Do a favor for an elderly neighbor. Call a friend you’ve been neglecting.
At the tollbooth, pay for the car behind you. Or, when going through the fast-food drive-thru, ask them to apply a dollar to the order of the car behind you. Pop some change into an expired parking meter.
You may be saying, “But they’ll never know who helped them out.” That’s precisely the point. You will know, though.
It’s not about getting credit. It’s about the pure intention of giving.
And that’s priceless!