Written by: Gurpreet Kaur, 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.
Step 1 – What causes you stress?
The holiday season can be a very stressful time for all of us for different reasons. It is ironic, though, that the most joyful time of the year causes us stress, but it is the reality. Before you figure out what to do about the holiday stress, you want to be clear on what exactly causes you stress during this time. Find out your triggers so you can be better prepared to cope with them.
Reflect on the last few years during this time and make a list of the things that made you stressed as well as the list of things that brought you joy. Don’t worry if the list that brought you joy is short.
Step 2 – Why does it cause stress?
After reflecting on what exactly causes you stress, now you will have to dig a little deeper to find out the why. To be general, I can tell you that some sort of fear is behind the things you probably have on your list. If family gatherings, for example, cause you stress, you might be afraid to face questions like have you gained weight? Or how is your job or business going? Or when are you getting married? You got the hint. The fear might be that you yourself are afraid to face some of these questions that may come from others. So, the point is not to avoid these questions, but to find out why these questions cause you stress. Is it that you are unhappy with your business, gained weight, job, or marriage status? Ask yourself this question: why does a ______ (job, marriage, or weight questions) question/topic make me feel uncomfortable or trigger an emotional response for me? Try to answer this question as honestly as you can.
For example, if gift giving makes the season stressful, then the real reason why it is so stressful might be feeling disapproval. You might be a people pleaser and want to give the best gift possible, which is causing the real stress, not the actual gift giving. It could be that you have an expectation to be liked all the time by others. Gift giving triggers that emotional wound of being disapproved or disliked. Therefore, gift giving is just a cover up that you are afraid of people not liking you or abandoning you. I know this is deep but if you want to really grow from these small worries and stressors for the long haul, you will have to dig deeper into your fears.
Step 3 – How to cope with the stress?
Once you know what causes you stress and why, it becomes a little easier to brainstorm ideas on how to cope with it all. There actually could be a simple and easy solution to everything on your list. And that is accepting who you are in this moment. Whether it’s avoiding tough questions from the family and friends, gift giving, tight on budget, pleasing others, or even trying to be happy and jolly if you are not. You can drop everything right in this moment and accept who you are to cope with it all.
Once you accept and embrace who you are, it doesn’t matter what the world makes out of you because you are at peace. You don’t need to explain to anybody why you gained 10 pounds if you are ok with it at your core. If you like yourself just the way you are, you don’t have to go out of your budget to gift someone so they think you are the best gift giver ever. You are giving the gift from your heart and because you want to share not to be liked. You would not care what others think of your cooking because you know you did the best you could right now. You would not be afraid to say “I am actually enjoying dating or being single right now so I am not sure when I will get married” to your aunt’s snotty inquiry on your marriage if you totally are ok with dating or being single right now.
Got the point? The key lies within you embracing your whole self instead of feeling pressured to be or do things others want you to do and be. Go back to the basics, my friend. You are complete and whole within you. You don’t need anybody’s approval to be just who you are. Embrace your strengths and shortcomings. Be proud of your successes and failures. I truly believe, if you are able to have unconditional positive regard towards yourself, there is nothing that can phase you.
Step 4: Go back to Step 1 and do more of the things that brought you joy in the past instead of feeling pressured to do or be that you are not!
A word about experiencing grief and sadness during the holidays. I know the holiday season has not been the same since 2019 due to the pandemic. We all have lost a lot during the past almost two years. Please allow the grief and sadness to be a part of this holiday season if that’s what is needed. Be patient with yourself and the process of loss and grief. Again, accept where you are so you can continue to grow and allow life to unfold on its own course. I wish you a wonderful holiday season!
Gurpreet Kaur, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dr. Gurpreet Kaur is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Speaker, and an Author. Dr. Kaur is very passionate about self-love, self-empowerment, wellness, reaching the full potential, and applying quantum mechanics principles to daily life. Dr. Kaur teaches a step-by-step self-care process to live a mentally and emotionally healthy life.