Holiday Stress: Making The Best Of Whatever Happens

by Doc Orman, M.D.

The truth about the Holiday Season is that we all want things to work out very well.  We want things to go very smoothly.  We want people to be happy and joyous.  We want our gifts, physical and otherwise, to be appreciated.  We want everyone to get along and to have a good time together.

This may be a great goal to have (or to expect), but life often has something very different in mind.  In fact, one of the best quotes about life I’ve ever heard is:

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

How Do You Habitually Cope With Adverse Events?

It’s not uncommon during the holidays for things to go in ways other than we might like:

  • Uncle Fester might come to your party, get drunk, and disrupt much of the anticipated fun and joy
  • The tree that you spent so many loving and painstaking hours to decorate could suddenly fall down (or get knocked over)  at any time during the holidays
  • A car accident or other type of injury could occur
  • Someone important to you, including yourself, could become ill or hospitalized
  • A relationship breakup or infidelity could occur
  • Someone could get arrested
  • Family arguments or other types of conflicts can occur

It’s very unlikely you will escape having at least one such unwanted event happen each holiday season.  And if you do, it might be tough to be this fortunate two or more years in a row.  Invariably, you are going to encounter such adverse events, and when you do, you might be challenged to always deal with them gracefully.

A Useful “Context” You Can Create

We often lose sight of the fact that, as human beings, we have this incredible ability to determine the contexts from which we view, and respond to, anything that happens in life.

The word “context” means nothing more than the “meaning” or “significance” that we attach to any event or circumstance we encounter.  Contexts can be attached to our experiences in life either unconsciously or consciously.  Unfortunately, most of the time, they are added unconsciously (i.e. automatically by habit) and once this happens, these automatic contexts tend to color our view of the situation at hand.  Often, our automatic contexts tend to be negative in nature, and hence very stress-producing.

You Can Intentionally Create Contexts As Well

The good news is that we are not helpless victims of any automatic contexts that we might habitually attach to events. We always have the choice to create (i.e., invent) our own personal contexts and add them intentionally to any event or circumstance that might be troubling us.

One stress-relieving and very empowering context you can create all throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, is this:

“Whatever happens in my life, no matter how bad it might be, I’m going to find a creative way to turn it into something positive.”

Now we need to acknowledge that this created context is entirely “made up.” We simply manufactured it out of thin air (actually out of language).  And there are many people who might argue that this constitutes foolish, naive, or Pollyannaish thinking.

Well, it might be Pollyannaish indeed, but every human being I know has the ability to make this a reality.  I’ve done it many times myself, and so too probably have you.

So consider adopting this way of thinking about, and responding to, whatever adverse, unwanted, or other unexpected events might happen during the holidays that might ordinarily put a damper on the joy you experience.  If you take this created context to heart, and if you really put your mind to it, you might be pleasantly surprised by what it awakens within you.

Here’s a link to my free holiday stress relief e-book on Facebook.

Here’s a link to some additional information on how to cope with holiday stress from the Cleveland Clinic. 


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