Do you get stressed over the holiday season? If you do, you’re certainly not alone. You’ve probably heard statistics that report the incidence of stress-related health issues like heart attacks and strokes are at a peak at Christmas and New Years.
This is a time that is ‘supposed’ to be joyful, so why the stress? I think, for some, we are reacting to the additional pressure of social engagements, Christmas shopping, decorating and all the additional running around.
What’s my advice? Practice non-judgment and having no expectations. Sometimes I know there are times where you can’t ‘get out of’ some kind of family or social engagement that you dread going to, but what you can control is what attitude you go into it with.
For example, let’s say every year you go to your sister’s place for Christmas eve dinner, and the same bunch of people are invited. Most of the people are those you definitely would not choose to be around, and the discussions get sarcastic and borderline argumentative. You just dread the thought of going!
Taking a non-judgment and no expectations approach looks like this:
- arriving at the event as if it’s your first time, having no expectations or pre-judgments about what’s going to happen or what someone is going to be like
- While you’re engaging with people, don’t judge them as they are talking. Eliminate your self-talk that may usually sounds like ‘that guy is just stupid, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about’.
- Instead, take on the role of an observer, of a witness. Just observe what is happening, how someone is talking, what emotions they must be feeling, etc, but without judging it. With this approach your own ego isn’t fed, and in fact, you will feel a sense of freedom from the angst you normally feel. Perhaps almost treat this way of non-judgment observation as a little game or experiment for yourself.
One of my favourite sayings is ‘if you don’t judge it, you can’t get frustrated with it’.
So head into the holiday season with this approach if you normally feel stressed, and see what difference it can make, for you!