Holiday season social stress

Christmas stressDo 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!


6 thoughts on “Holiday season social stress

  1. Once again Wendy, your observations are very timely! I have just such an event that has plagued me for years. What would it hurt to try a different approach? I have often thought “I could write a book about this gathering!”. If I am busy observing characters for my “book” – and deciding who will play them in the movie version – I will definitely be engaging in less self stress talk. We definitely choose our own stress levels. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    • Hi there Esr, great! Good for you. That’s the way to approach this event. Good luck with this technique. If you would like to let me know how it goes, I’d be interested in hearing about it.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to write,

  2. Great advice, Wendy. I too use the “little experiment’ trick and it works. It helps to inject humour into a situation that might otherwise be adversarial. The lightness helps me to feel better about others and myself. A win/win! Also, when I catch myself judging someone, I try to think of a similar thing I have done or said in the past. It’s not hard and I can always think of one. hee hee
    Warm wishes for a very happy holiday,

    • Hi Kim! Wow, great of you to share your experiences with this. I’m so glad to hear it works well for you too. Thanks so much for contributing, Kim. Happy Holidays to you too!

  3. A good well invited post. Why there should be stress. It is said that “in anger and fury be like the dead”. Every thing one should take light under those circumstances and feel peaceful.

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