Are The Holidays Stressful? Well, That Depends Entirely On You…

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

In my last post about how you can’t “avoid stress” over the holidays, I challenge the popular belief that stress is something that we can only dodge or hide from and if it gets us, it takes over our brain and body and forces us to feel certain things when challenges come our way. That post was dedicated to those who are hoping stress don’t come ’round this Christmas.

This post is dedicated to those who think the holidays are stressful.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but our society has deemed certain events as “stressful”. No matter what, there are some stressful things in life. We talk like there’s a master list of “stressful things” that exists somewhere and this list contains such things as: getting married, starting a new job, moving, and of course, the holidays. Having any other kind of experience with those events is out of the question because well…their stressful. We talk like certain things come with a tag attached that says: THIS IS STRESSFUL.

I hear people say, “This is such a stressful week”, yet the truth is that it’s a challenging or busy week containing particular appointments, meetings, tasks, etc. Despite it’s challenges and busy schedule, no week comes with a tag attached to it saying: I’M STRESSFUL. YOU’LL BE LUCKY TO SURVIVE. I also hear people say, “I work with some stressful people.” Yet no one at work has ever walked up to them with a tag hanging from their arm that says: I AM HERE TO MERELY PISS YOU OFF. And of course, right now I’m hearing many people say that this time of year is stressful and yet, I’ve never seen a calendar with a tag hanging from the December page that says: THIS MONTH IS STRESSFUL. STOCK UP YOUR LIQUOR CABINET.

Nothing (not even December!) comes to us as anything more than what it is. Every event, situation, and person that comes our way is actually neutral. Yes, there are challenges and yes, there are busy times, but if we think or talk about it in a way that’s beyond those kinds of facts, that’s due to the interpretation we have of it and the meaning we place on it. For example, some people love camping and some people think it’s grounds for divorce. Some people love roller coasters and some people think life is tough enough. See how camping and roller coasters are only stressful for some people because that’s their perception of it? Camping, roller coasters, weeks, co-workers, and yes, the holidays can be anything you want it to be.

And bless those souls who view a season of eating, drinking, and celebrating with friends and family as a total pain in the butt.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season,

susan

Why There’s No “Avoiding Stress” This Holiday Season

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Yep, that’s right. There’s no avoiding stress this holiday season. Well, not in the way that you or most people think.

There is a collective and very popular belief that peace and stress are separate from us. The way we talk about peace and stress creates the illusion that we have no control over them happening or being our experience when certain things take place. I heard evidence of this sense of separation and lack of control a few days ago when a girlfriend of mine said, “We’ve decided not to go his mother’s house this Christmas – we want to avoid the stress.” I wondered if stress rented a room in this woman’s house and relished my friend’s visits as it enjoyed putting her under a spell that forced her into being frustrated and anxious while she was there. I told her to send me her in-laws’ address so I too could stay away from there and have a truly merry Christmas.

When we talk about avoiding stress like all we can do is pray it don’t come ’round no more, we are disempowering ourselves and taking no accountability for the powerful role we play in the experiences we have.

I often hear people say, “I just want to find some peace”. Finding peace sounds like at one point we had a device that made us feel good and now can’t for the life of us remember where we put it down. And now the search is on. During my childhood my mother would often say, “All I want is some peace and quiet.” For years it was her mantra. Even as a kid I picked up on the odd and impossible nature of her desire to find peace. One mother’s day I gave her a blank cassette as a gift and on the label it said, “Press Play For Some Peace & Quiet”.

Since peace isn’t something that we will ever find tucked away in a drawer and because stress isn’t something that swoops into a room and forces us to feel a certain way, I’m left believing that the only way to find peace is by creating peaceful thoughts and being peaceful. Because our thoughts create our experience, the only way to avoid stress this holiday season is to avoid being stressful and creating stressful thoughts about your in-laws and other inevitable yuletide challenges.

So, you CAN avoid stress this holiday season – it’s just not in the way that you or most people think.

Big Love,

susan