Holiday Stress Management

Holiday get togethers can be a challenge.  As we prepare for the holidays we are often anticipating family, friends, food and finances.  It’s funny. The time of year that is portrayed as the most peaceful and cohesive often involves the most stress and struggle.

Whether it’s stress from tense relationships, worry about unmet expectations, financial pressures that are tough to ignore or health concerns due to food and treats…the stress that the holidays can bring is undeniable.

One very, very useful thing you can do before the holiday get togethers is to practice The Resource Strategy.  I’ll walk you through it here, and have included additional resources below.

Think of a time, maybe at a previous gathering, when you had the bad feeling that might come up. This might be a feeling of inadequacy, a feeling of helplessness when it comes to making good food choices, frustration with certain people, or unhappiness with the situation you “find yourself in.”

Whatever the “bad” feeling is, think about what would trigger that for you.  Be specific. Think of a specific example, a time when the feeling was triggered, and identify what happened immediately before that.  Maybe it was a phrase being said, tone of voice, smell of food, location….whatever it was, it is the “trigger” for the feelings you don’t want to have.

Get “into” the experience (we call this associate into it). Feel like you are there.  See what you see. Hear what you hear.

Now take a step back.  It’s as if you’re looking at the situation as an outside observer.  From the outside, what would you tell yourself to do? How would you advise yourself to respond?  Take a look at all the options, from the outside, and determine the best course of action.

Once you have chosen the best response, jump back “into” the situation, so it’s as if you’re actually there.  This time, see yourself having the new, more resourceful response. Notice how you feel, what you see and what you hear. Notice the differences.

Finally, imagine yourself this upcoming holiday having these resourceful responses in a similar situation.  See what it will look like, hear what it will sound like.  Feel how your holiday get together will be vastly different than years past.

Here’s a quick summary of the steps to the Resource Strategy:


STEP 1. Establish the context which seems to rob you of your resources and prevents you from responding appropriately.

Identify the trigger (words, tone, analogue, place, etc..) for the unresourceful state. Identify a specific example.

STEP 2. Associate into the example at the point when you first realize you are having the undesired response.

STEP 3. Dissociate from the situation.

STEP 4. Identify the most appropriate response(s) for the “other you over there.”

STEP 5. Re-associate back into the situation, taking with you the new responses.

STEP 6. Future-pace.

STEP 7. Test using a different but similar context as the test.

To read a more detailed description of the Resource Strategy I encourage you to check out this article on our website.  

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