Handling Christmas Stress

Four hacks for handling Christmas Stress – and change your life:

When you begin to feel stressed – particularly Christmas stress –  and you feel frustrated, put upon, rushed, angry, remember these fours simple truths that will change your Christmas – and your life.

1.  Shift from  Christmas Stress by Clearing Your Thinking

Nothing external causes your emotional state

Some things or some people can be difficult, because they themselves don’t understand their own emotional responsibilities. But nothing and no one can jump into your muscles, or brain, or hormones, to bring you into a tight, stressed state – only you can do that. So what can you do then?

Your emotions are a response to your perceptions, not to fact or reality

We suppose that other things or other people cause how we feel.  In fact, someone else’s behaviour can’t cause anything in you.  What happens is you perceive, and then filter your perceptions through the blackbox of your mind – and then, you react, like a ping pong ball, reacting the same old way over and over again.

2.  Realise That Your Notions Of How It Should Be Are Bad For You

Do you know there are only 10 rules in the Bible? But you have zillions. And then you react when your rules are not met. Try looking at your difficult person or difficult situation differently. Maybe it is ok, just different from what you would prefer. Gosh! OK… take a new path.

Everything really is as it should be

Since the dawn of time, one thing has led to another, and that to another… right down to what is happening now. That annoying behaviour or person or situation is inevitable because of everything that has gone before.

The Butterfly Effect -you cannot change the past. The future is another matter

How it is now is because everything prior is how it has been. The Butterfly Effect is a the recognition that if you could change the past, even the recent past, the present, including the present you, would be a crazy version of what you now know.  Also, it is the notion that something you change now, in this instant, can have far reaching effects. If a butterfly flaps its wings now, who knows what a wind of change will result?

You can’t change the past… but you will respond better to your current provocation when you realise that its origins are a long way back in the past, and it is useless to see it as a blame situation in this moment now. And your own past contributes to what you are feeling and how you are reacting in this moment, too. It is not so easy as “you did, I didn’t”.

All the invisible past things can’t be changed. They are fixed, and have their beginnings far back from where you are in this moment of stress.  That is a good thing to take into account, when you feel stressed, cranky or overwhelmed. Even this moment of provocation is less stressful when we realize that a long trail of previous causes have made it be as it is. Why not be a butterfly and flap your beautiful wings?

Right now is where the butterfly flaps its wings

The first flap of  your delicate wings is just a little shift in your mind. You can become more comfortable with what aggravates you. You can become more tolerant of frustration and discomfort.

Emotional discomfort is probably more of a trigger for stress than physical discomfort.  One way  you can handle it better is to remind yourself that you can!  You can remind yourself that you have strength and skill, and that emotional outbursts and  reactions show your own intolerance.  They don’t make a statement about anyone else.  So becoming better at handling Christmas stress means being OK with the present, however it is. And the easiest way to do that is to give up the blame game for the obnoxious things that happen and the obnoxious people around you.

Becoming tolerant, giving up the blame game

When you realise that that the present is a result of a long chain of past influences, you can actively work on having an “allowing” mindset, one that permits others to have their funny ways or to be different from how you would like them to be.  Another really big thing you can do is to stop blaming anyone else for how things are.

Yes, you might be able to see how it all could have been different! Yet, in fact, it is exactly how it had to be.  So where is the blame coming from?  Only from your frustration.  So… what can you do?

The future can be changed, and it starts now

Here’s the good news, The present is already on its way to being the past. But the next moment is unformed.  You can change that – right now!  Wow – the future can be changed. And the bad news?  You have to be the one who changes.  Ohhh….. But remember the Butterfly effect. Even a small change you make can have far reaching effects.  If you go on in the same old way, your ping-pong mind will just get one hit after another

Well, at least take a deep breath. In fact, here are some quick physical things you can do to release a bit of your Christmas stress

3. Make A Quick Change In The Very Moment – Physical

Here is a quick way to make a difference in your own state, right now, at any time. When your mind gets uptight, so does  your body. So if you can’t quickly change your mind, do something to change your body state.  This is a quick start.

Take a deep breath and slowly let it out

This is wonderful to do before you reply, or whenever you feel things are getting on top of you

Brief muscle tensing for body relaxation

Tighten all the muscles in your arms and hands – and then just let it all go. Arms heavy, soft.  Just for a moment.

 Release neck and shoulder tension

Paradoxically TIGHTEN your neck and shoulders.  Scrunch your shoulders up towards your neck. And then let go.  Do that two or three times. Letting go on an out-breath is nice

And perhaps you begin to notice that YOU are in charge of how much stress you feel, and you don’t have to be like a ping-pong ball that bounces off predictably whenever it is touched by someone or some situation that is different from what you like.

4. Meditate: The best way to handle Christmas stress or any stress

Sit still and quiet for a period, and actively restrict your mind from journeying out to all those entrancing thoughts about how awful it is.

An hour daily would be great (Not enough time?  Then 3 hours!)

Ok, 20 minutes

Ok then, 10 minutes in the midst of things

And a fifth: Learn how to do your life better

Come To The Meditation Retreat

Book into my Learn Still-Meditation and Mindfulness course asap. Follow the link for more info about what still-mind meditation is, and the places and times.



About Mataji

I have been practising still-mind meditation since 1982, teaching still-mind meditation since 1989, and training teachers since 1999. The greatest life change for me has been a steady easefulness with its ups and downs, and an ability to love the difficult folks as well as the easy ones. The more profound changes aren't so easy to put into words.
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