It feels like just about the whole world needs tips on how to reduce holiday stress, especially while visiting family. Well, here they are and why they work in your brain.
Tip #1 to Reduce Holiday Stress: Less is More.
Seriously, less is more. I have met so many people that think “more is more”. It’s not. I even worked with a man who had a tattoo that read “Less is More “and he had it changed to “More is More” as his brain cranked it up into overwhelmed overdrive (more on that in a bit). Joy comes from the inside and can only really happen when you allow yourself to be slow enough to feel it.
Keeping a very relaxed holiday atmosphere to reduce holiday stress for myself and even my family of five kids is essential. We wake up and chill. Then, we eat breakfast and chill. After dinner, we chill again. This provides lots of quality family time. If we go out, it is only once and for a limited amount of time to keep everyone happy. The picture above is us at the movies on Thanksgiving Eve Eve. That’s right two days before Thanksgiving so we can chill on the day.This will keep you brain calm enough to enjoy what you are doing in the moment instead of worrying about the next thing you have planned. Trust me, it is worth it.
Why this tip works:
It keeps your nervous system from going too fast and creating anxiousness and overwhelm. By staying perfectly fast, in calm focus, you will enjoy your time.
Tip #2: Be Lovingly Assertive.
Have you ever visited your family during the holidays just to be ripped on? Me too. So many times, in our family of origin dynamics, we don’t speak up for ourselves. We are accustomed to sitting quietly while being passively-aggressively insulted. It is recommended that you, lovingly, learn how to stand up for yourself in these interactions so that you can earn the respect that you deserve. Even if you are not heard by the other person, you will feel better brewing up the strength inside to not take low-grade abuse anymore. It is incredibly empowering and can shift those dynamics in a positive direction for the rest of your life. So, go for it!
Why this tip works:
Even if you are not heard, you feel more in control and empowered. This keeps your brain in clam focus and doesn’t allow it to speed up to anxiety mode. In anxiety mode you are bound to make comments that you are sure to regret in the morning.
Tip #3: “I’ve never thought of it that way.”
If you don’t know how to start being lovingly assertive, begin here. This is your new response to everything! I learned this little ditty from my beloved mentor Dr. Wayne Dyer. When confronted with any remark from your sibling or parent, this is your response. It is especially applicable during conversations that surround the ideas of values, politics, and religion.
“I am not sure if you are living your life in the right way Trish.” “Interesting, I’ve never thought of it that way.”
Boom, it shuts down any impending conflict. If your family is anything like mine, the friendly-ish banter of quasi-intellectual conflict is just what is desired. I do not like to play that game, so my response triumphs. It can triumph for you too.
Why this tip works:
It keeps your brain calm, focused and lower in stress as you control the situation instead of getting dragged into a controversial conversation you have no hope of keeping up with, nor do you want to.
Tip #4: Recognize the value in all your family relationships.
This tip will help you feel love for your family and remind you that connection is important with them, even if they drive you nuts. I think of my sisters and the fun we have had over the years and feel warmth inside. I think of my dad watching General Hospital (don’t judge, I was in Jr. High School). Fond memories keep me connected.
Why this tip works:
When you think of love and just the fact that you have people in this world to call your own, you calm your mind and bring it down, out of anxiety mode and into calm focus. In calm focus you can be the best version of yourself.
Tip #5: Celebrate “Friendsgiving” instead.
You know the saying. Your friends make up for your family. Well, if you fall into the category of those who find spending time with your family too stressful, like me, then this suggestion is for you. Instead of torturing yourself at another family gathering, spend your holiday with your friends. You will find that many people are in the same boat as you. They do not want to put themselves under duress on the holiday but, would rather spend it with likeminded people with who they can relax. This is what we do. We chill with friends.
If you find your family so unbearable, as many do, you find solace in your friendships. The connection that we all strive for can be found many types of relationships, not just family. It can be found with friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
Why this tip works:
Being with people you like and can be yourself with is inspiring. It helps your nervous system to calm down and allows you to be your authentic self. You are seen and loved for who you are. That is awesome.
How to Reduce Holiday Stress If I Can’t Use These Tips?
If you cannot use these tips and have significantly increased anxiety or depression at the holidays, then you may benefit from Neurofeedback Brain Training Therapy. To know how your brain is performing, you should have a qEEG Brain Map performed. It will show you, with your own two eyes, if your brain is using the underlying pattern that is associated with anxiety, depression, both or more. I have seen it many times in our office at Leigh Brain & Spine where my hubs, Dr. Cosmas Leigh, serves people using this totally awesome technology. The best part of Neurofeedback training is that everything is measurable. You can see your brain performance graphs changing over time. This way you know and can see that your brain is improving as you begin to feel better in your life. I just love science, don’t you?
Once you know that your baseline brain performance pattern is not where it should be, then you know how far it needs to go to improve using Neurofeedback so you feel and perform better. We even offer Neurofeedback From Home for those who live far away or want more support. Neurofeedback is the missing link to most people’s care. It helps shift your brain into a better mode so that you can make better choices and do better behaviors. Without it, so many people are stuck in the gear that is creating their problems with little hope to get unstuck.
If you want more information on how your brain works and tips that you can use yourself, then join one of my Neurocoaching Workshops so you can learn about all the tools you could be using to help yourself get back on track.
FOR NEUROFEEDBACK EXPERTS
Family of origin issues are at the heart of much of the neurological dysregulation that we see in patients with anxiety and depression. Dysfunctional family dynamics have been identified as a major causal factor of the perpetuation of the challenges that people struggle with. The holidays can be a very stressful time that kicks people’s issues into high gear on a neurological level. I call this “episodic dysregulation”. This is when a person’s brain moves into a more dysregulated pattern because it is under pressure.
How Can I Tell If A Client Is Struggling This Holiday Season?
If you see changes in your client’s Neurofeedback trend screens that shows that they are experiencing greater levels of anxiety, high beta, underlying anxiety and depression, alpha, and fatigue and overwhelm, Delta, then you know they need more support during this holiday season. That support can come in the form of more Neurofeedback Training sessions, neurocoaching in the office, or one of my short course workshops on Anxiety and Depression that are chalk full of strategies, techniques and tools for people to use to keep from moving backwards in their journeys toward neurological regulation and a full, authentic life.