In .28 seconds I found 18,900,000 results on Bing, and 61,500,000 results in 0.46 seconds—honestly—on Google on how to “survive the holidays.” MILLIONS of tips on how to “survive” the holidays! What in the world has happened to us? Have we gone mad? C’mon now. We need more than these many MILLIONS of tips on how to “survive” the holidays? When did the media create this insanity? Holiday stress? Seriously! What holiday stress?
Focus on friends not food, enjoy the journey not the destination, make time for fitness, get plenty of sleep, serve others, create a “to-do” list, don’t compare, get plenty of vitamin D3, drop your expectations, don’t get so focused on perfection that you’ll believe you SHOULD have no challenges, forget Norman Rockwell, don’t dread it, be honest with yourself, avoid the pressures of family get togethers, set manageable daily goals, don’t drink too much, avoid the “shoulds,” don’t pressure yourself, yada, yada, yada. Do we really need to be told this stuff year after year, in so many millions of different –or indeed, similar–ways?
The message from the media is that the holidays are draining, emotionally depleting, exhausting, stressing, anxiety producing, and downright unhealthy. Are they working for the drug companies or something? Well, pharmaceutical companies DO advertise meds for anxiety in the media, so maybe there is that connection. Even the American Psychological Association gives tips such as identifying your stressors that are triggers. What stressors? Does the APA really believe there are stress monsters waiting to pounce on unsuspecting, innocent, minding-their-own business holiday “survivors”? Utter nonsense. Stress is not something that lurks in dark corners waiting for December to pounce on us. We invite stress in by the way we look at events. Joseph and Mary themselves probably didn’t think that manger was so perfect, but it all worked out fine didn’t it?
Fortunately, there are 219,000,000 hits on Google and 37,900,000 results on Bing for the “joy of the holidays.” Whew. For a moment, I thought I was abnormal since I enjoy the holidays and find nothing at all stressful in the beauty of the season, the decorations, the celebrations, the excitement, the music and the general feeling in the air. Remember those hits on holiday stress?
So what’s with these stressed-out, nervous, angry, grief-filled, depressed, over-eating and under-exercising “survivors”? What are they “surviving?”
Here’s the secret. They are surviving their own thoughts, the thoughts they ingest from media “commercialization,” and nonsensical, irrational and inaccurate thoughts and self-created negative beliefs they focus on about how “tragic and difficult” a time this season of the year is if it’s not as perfect as they desire. It’s none of that, until and unless you believe it. Then you can make the holidays anything you want. You can even believe Martians will fly out from under a treadmill in the gym. You are only creating your own holiday stress.
Why you’d want to believe that though, I wouldn’t hazard a guess. Same when it comes to erroneously thinking the worst will happen, filling your mind with totally inaccurate thoughts about how horrid of a person you are, giving the worst case meaning to events in your life surrounding the holidays and feeling sorry for yourself that “everyone else” is having a better holiday than you. Here’s yet another tip—don’t believe everything you —- think!
Want a joy-filled, fun, peaceful and loving experience over the next month or so? Understand that your mood and the events around you are not at all, in any way, connected. You can create any positive mood you want, regardless of your actual life-situation. Any mood you want, REGARDLESS of your actual life situation.
Thoughts are just thoughts. You create them, you control them, and you can change them. And get this—you can do all that without an “illness” requiring a “diagnosis” and “treatment” and signing up for tranquilizers, anti-depressants or mood stabilizers—that have little evidence that they really matter anyway for mild to moderate normal upsets.
Let’s hope that all year long you’ve done your best—ok, at least you tried—to help your fitness and wellbeing. That means you’ve already had at your disposal the longest-lasting, most effective method for helping yourself prevent holiday stress and instead create happiness, joy and positivity—exercise. It will help you clear your mind from that negative, erroneous thinking you slip into with the encouragement of the media who wants you to believe the holidays are so “stressful.”
With moderate to intense exercise, you reset your thinking, you certainly improve your mood, correct your biochemistry, develop your “plastic” brain cells, and advance your health. Stress is not something we “get” nor is it inherent in any event—it is created when we think about life events in specific ways that may anticipate and predict “awful, horrible, terrible, catastrophic” outcomes that we absolutistically demand must not occur, or see life events through a lens that defines situations as unusually negative and harsh. Again, don’t believe everything you — think.
Exercising can help you catch your breath, take a moment to reset your irrational thinking, challenge what evidence you have for such nasty thoughts, and identify alternative ways for thinking about a holiday gift, a party, a get together, an invitation, food, relationships that have faded, finances, or whatever you were troubling yourself with.
Have you given to yourself by giving to others? Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself first.” You can really get past the negative nonsense about how tough it is during the holidays by helping others, filling up on gratitude for all others do for you, finding the good in whatever happens, “…because as a result I…” That’ll turbocharge your awesomeness during the season!
The holidays are days. Filled with activities, events, situations, people, or not. Think of them in a way that leaves you happy, OR believe the media and suffer—you can’t do both. Thankfully, that’s the choice we all have—we just need to be reminded of it.
Keep up your workouts, your healthy thinking, enjoy a few fun meals, party with friends, sleep well and, truly, happy holidays ahead!