stress less and find more peace, manage stress

Stress Less -for the holidays and anytime

Wish it were automatic to stress less and still enjoy the season?

Maybe that feels like a tall, ridiculous order. It might seem that you’re either ALL in for the holidays or taking a complete vacation from them altogether.

Most people want something in the middle. They want less stress and more enjoyment, more meaning, and more peace.

Let’s get you that.

Identify the Biggest Stressor

Is it travel to four different places? Maybe you especially stress about that ONE event. Feeling overwhelmed by obligations? Is it pressure you put on yourself to produce a Martha Stewart scene? Is it that you two seem to get into so many more arguments this time of year and you’d love to side-step it this year?Pick out the biggest one for you.

And yes, it’s personal, specific to you. Your spouse does not have to agree that this it THE THING. What stresses you may be the most important thing for her (or him) or for the kids… but we’re not talking about that right now. (Are you stressed because you’re alone? Here’s some help for that: read HERE or HERE.) We’re talking about what is MOST stressful for you. Identify that.

Having trouble identifying it?

Ask these questions to tease it out more effectively:

  • What one thing, if it disappeared today, would have me sighing with relief?
  • If I had to miss one part of the holiday, what would I skip out on with NO regrets?
  • Fantasize the perfect imaginary holiday. It looks like… (go ahead and get really specific and write it down.)

Don’t spend time evaluating this either. Don’t listen to the guilters or the naysayers even if they come from your own brain! It’s not time to judge your stress. If it’s stressful, it’s stressful. we’re going to solvee that. Next…

1. What’s the ONE CHANGE that will minimize that Stress?

You are looking for a rule, guideline, or principle you can adopt that keeps that stressor at bay.

Here’s an example:

For me, it’s shopping. I refuse to do any last minute shopping. And last minute for me means anything after I am on holiday break from work. That means if it’s not done before December 20, too bad, baby.

That one guideline eliminates 80% of the stress for me.

There may be part of this “area” you like.

Keep that.

Look, I am not a shopper. Never have been, never will be. (In fact I DREAM of having a personal shopper to whom I can say, replace these, I need that, I’m looking for this particular thing…and not spend one second of my time finding it!)

But I DO enjoy stuffing those stockings with quirky, unique, thoughtful, fun surprises.

I shop end-caps, kiosks, dollar aisles, clearance bins, and specialty shops…before December 20th… to thoughtfully purchase little gifties for ALL my lovies.

If there’s some part of the greatest stressor you DO like, keep it.

There may be related, smaller stressors

Eliminate these right alongside the other.

For instance, I also keep my gift wrapping simple anymore.

I did not always. I actually glued beads to wrapping paper, wove folded paper strips into gorgeous art before folding it over gifts, hand-stamped my paper, made my very own bows. Heck, we had seven trees one year, each with their own theme. I was a crazy person, tipsy with useless ideas.

I don’t do that anymore. Thankfully. It went bye-bye forever right along with all the pressure for more shopping right up to the minute.

It’s your stress.

It’s no one else’s stress. They don’t have to agree with you or find the same thing stressful.

Many years ago, on several Christmas Eve days I was shopping at the Mall of America with my ex-husband. That was super stressful for me. Was it fun for him? I actually think, yes, it was. (Go figure!) 

But I’m a grown-up. So are you. I own my stress.

I do not like to shop. Shopping on Christmas Eve or anytime but especially when  I am supposed to be resting from my labors is no longer acceptable. So I don’t do it.

2. Find the deeper reason

Spend a little time reflecting. Do you know what that drive behind the stressor really is? Why haven’t you abandoned it before now?

Could it be obligation or guilt or people pleasing, trying to be good enough, buy love, keep up appearances, or with the Joneses, or make up for something, disguise some lack?

I bet if you dig deep, you know what this is really about.

I certainly know what was driving me. Letting it go was key to my health. And that’s the next step.

3. Let it go.

Look, you are a grown-up. It’s about time those subconscious drives from forever-ago stopped running the show. You get to do what you want with all that baggage.

And if it’s not serving you, let it go. Breathe in, say you’re letting it go and then expel it with your exhale. You don’t gotta. Anymore. So don’t.

Just let it go.

You’re not a bad mate or parent, sibling, or child. You are all grown-up and if it’s not adding to your life, just don’t do it. Let it go.

I know that can be harder to DO than to want to do.

For some of you, it’ll be easy. Just reading through this has given you clarity and been a great reminder. You actually will follow through, change things up, and have a different experience this year.

But all of us could use a little help and support to make that change.

That’s what I’m here for

Let me help. I walk people through this all the time. I’m here for you if you need me. Give a call or send a message. Let’s get started on your best holiday season ever.

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boundaries between people

Good Boundaries – at holiday time and always

When facing time with family, good boundaries will serve you well.

But first, let’s be clear: good boundaries are not “I just can’t take it ANY.MORE!” limits. They’re not demands you hope others will fulfill. They are not cold, hard brick walls.

Good boundaries are more like standards you have that keep YOU peaceful, safe, and at least relatively content.

Good Boundaries in action

Here’s an example: I have a standard that I don’t get yelled at. If, at any time, someone were to start yelling AT me, I would remove myself. Right away.

I don’t yell back and usually I don’t reiterate my standard unless I do it with super-low, measured energy. I just go away from it. Or get off the phone. I leave the room or ask the other person to leave- in that same measured, low-level energy.

I don’t do yelling matches. Period. About anything. Ever.

Those days are gone.

Because I now have standards about what I will and will not have in my life. And yelling AT me is one thing I will not have in my life.

Here’s a thing to remember:

You set a boundary, you get to keep it

Having a boundary and setting it is NOT about the other person, it’s about you. If you set a boundary, then it’s yours. You are the one who gets to tend and maintain the boundary.

You only get to control yourself.

Don’t try to use “boundaries” to control other people. That will never work. Those are actually demands. Those types of boundaries can be manipulative, plus they’re kind of screechy, shrill, and above all, ineffective. (More about this everywhere I’ve written about communication: HERE and HERE. You can check out the podcast episode HERE or search for episode 7 of Midlife Love Bytes anywhere you find your podcasts.)

Don’t be surprised when others push them or cross your good boundary.

They’re new. Like a dog and an electric fence, people need to discover and learn from the boundary. Of course they’re going to get tested.

Don’t get upset when YOUR boundary gets tested.

There’s no need to go to war over them. If the boundary or standard is not negotiable (that is the nature of real boundaries and standards- they are not negotiable) then don’t stand there and negotiate the boundary.

Yes, you can explain your boundary

But do this at a time when it’s not being tested, pushed, or crossed. You can say something like “hey, just so you know, I don’t stay engaged when people yell at me. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t like it. I feel bad and I just don’t tolerate it.”

End of talking. You don’t have to defend the boundary. Or unearth it’s family of origin or ex-spouse origin. If it’s a boundary and it’s your boundary and you mean to live by it, then you don’t really need to explain it or justify it or talk it to death.

That someone understands where the boundary comes from or how it came to be a boundary for you is way less important that YOU having it, being clear on it, and knowing that it’s YOUR boundary.

Assertiveness is different than aggression

Assertiveness comes from a place of strength; aggression comes from an attempt to get more of it. In other words, aggression is a reaction because of lack while assertiveness is just an assertion of that strength.

Assertiveness does not lord it over someone else or tell them what to do. Assertiveness puts the truth out there and then follows up when necessary.

Apply your good standards and boundaries

Heading into the holidays, identify a thing you know you won’t tolerate. Then make a plan for how you will respond to it. Then do it.

That’s all there is to it.

Don’t want to be around your drunk uncle? Make a plan to leave when that threshold gets crossed.

Don’t want to be compared to your brother? Leave the conversation if that happens. Go to a different room.

Tired of the girls doing all the work while the guys watch football? Ask for help. Use Clean, Non-Blaming Communication (TM) or (CNBC). “I feel frustrated. I don’t want to do all the work and clean-up. Can you help with that?” Or assert it as a standard: “I feel miffed. I want to watch football and take a nap.” Then go do it. 😉

Hard to imagine the last scenario?

It could be that’s not an area for a boundary.

Sure, it’s something you feel piqued about and you’ve grown bitter about over years and years and years.

Could be, asserting a boundary about that one is really about changing things up way ahead of the game, or just getting over your irritation.

You gotta pick your battles.

If you’re having trouble identifying what might be true boundaries, (think standard) versus demands or attempts to control, I can help. I can see what might be a blind spot for you. It’s what I do.

Maybe you don’t have any experience asserting a boundary and they come out being pretty aggressive expressions. I know how to help with that too. I love supporting people as they grow stronger.

You could be super frustrated around your previously thwarted attempts with good boundaries. I can help with that.

Let’s get you prepped and set for more peaceful, happier holidays (and life) this year.

Get in here and let’s get started. Give me a call.

CONNECT