Written by: Nate Hager, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
What do you picture when you think about the holidays? Fun, food, decorations, laughter, the closeness of family and friends? Unfortunately, the reality for many is not so rosy. Most of us just hope to survive the obligatory interactions that come with this time of year. Holidays are all about stress – stress about money, seeing the in-laws, another year gone by with little to show, judgments, and unmet expectations all while finding ways to keep the kids entertained without fighting. If that’s your holiday picture you’re not alone, a 2018 survey found a stunning 88% of Americans report increased stress during the holidays.
The good news is there are many possible ways to change the tone of the holiday season, and naturally, it starts with you. Developing these Neuro-linguistic Programming language “switches” ‒ while fun ‒ is also a bit of a skill. Changing ourselves is the fastest and healthiest way to influence others, because like it or not we train others how to treat us.
The conscious and subconscious communications that we respond with show others how we think we deserve to be treated. It almost sounds like a cliché, but we’re all the end result of childhood reward and punishment patterns that we still run mentally. Jealousy and competition amongst extended family, arguments around the dinner table, guilt or shame brought on by offhand comments, pressure to “measure up” to questioning relatives. We dread it and just cannot wait for it to end.
In the lead-up to the holiday season, I work with clients to change those subconscious responses and boost their confidence using self-hypnosis. What we term today as unwanted responses are simply there because they were installed first. Of course not everyone will have the same response to similar events, this is because we’re all unique and through our childhood have been given different response programs to run. This is not to say if we’ve been given a less-than-helpful program we simply have to live with it. We are unaware of these response programs that we run, so it can be hard to break them. However, with a bit of self-hypnosis, we can load new and better responses into our brains.
Lower your holiday stress levels
I’m going to share with you a fun visualization game designed to lower your holiday stress levels. This technique is best done before you find yourself in a stressful situation – to ward off the feelings of stress, or after a stressful confrontation when you need to mellow out quickly. Do practice this habitually before the season gets in full swing so that it will feel like an old familiar skill when you do need to use it. You’ll notice I’ve called this a game, this is because it works best with a playful attitude to help boost your visualization abilities. Two rules for playing this game; first go with whatever your first impression is, second ignore the urge to second guess in search of the right or perfect answer.
Now let’s spin your stress away using the steps below.
If you are not feeling the way you would, notice where in your body you feel that. Notice the size, shape, and color of the feeling. All emotions move, much like butterflies in your stomach, so pay attention to how it’s sliding back and forth or how it’s spinning. What direction is moving? Is it going clockwise or counterclockwise?
Now pull the feeling out of your body so you can see it in front of you. Has the color changed? Is it still the same?
Like a toy running out of batteries slow down the motion, and visualize the ever-decreasing movement. Once it’s stopped, spin it in the opposite direction and notice its color change. Increase the speed and feel how your emotions change
Pull the image back into your body and feel the positive feelings increase, now spin it faster so that it spreads all over your body
Notice what’s different now when you think of the old situation. If the feeling doesn’t reduce as much as you’d like run the spinning again, repetition is the key to getting better. If the people or situation that caused the stress is still around keep visualizing that new shape you created that made you feel so good.
Remember to go into this powerful visualization game with a playful, curious attitude and you will see a reduction in your stress. Happy Holidays!
Nate Hager, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Nate is a board-certified Hypnotist, an NLP Master Practitioner, master-level Executive Coach and Certified Life & Health Mindset Coach. Over the last ten years, he’s worked with Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs, helping them eliminate self-sabotage to achieve peak performance, raise their earnings potential and build business empires. Appearing on Rogers Business TV and 98.5’s Good News Only Show, he’s passionate about underscoring the benefits of hypnosis in building a fitness mindset, reducing stress and anxiety, weight management, and personal performance. His techniques have shaped the lives of his clients by helping them redefine their identities and bounce back from major life stressors.