How to view it:

When it comes to stress it is helpful to remember, “It is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” Generally, it what you do between your ears that matter’s most. One of the biggest sources of stress is a group of thought patterns I like to call the “shoulds”, “oughts”, and “got tos”. These are closely related to the “rights” and the “wrongs”. We are all familiar with them. They cause stress all year long, but they really shine during the holiday. There is a right way and a wrong way to set a holiday table. You should always serve Turkey for thanksgiving.

You should buy lots of expensive presents for everyone.

How to do it: There are 4 steps to reducing this type of stress.

First, really attend to how you do these things. Identify those inner voices.

Second, once you have identified them, ask one of three questions about these ideas floating around in your head. According to whom? Is it really true or is it just a preference? What happens when I buy into this? For instance, let’s look at one should, “I have to put on the perfect holiday.” According to whom? Your mother your grandfather and certainly Hallmark. Is it true or just a preference? As for what happens, it varies, but many people report rushing and feeling very pressured.

Third, work toward a strategy advocated by Saint Francis of Assissi: Stress inducing thoughts are like birds that fly through your head. You cannot stop them from flying in, but you do not have to make a nest for them. In other words, just watch the “shoulds” and let them go without acting on them. It can help to take a deep breath and as you are exhaling imagine that you are helping the birds fly on through. It can help to have a sense of humor about the various ideas that get stuck in our heads. I often suggest to people to imagine the inner voices after sucking helium. It usually helps a great deal.

Fourth and finally cultivate practices that help you be less stressed. This can include the following: reducing the number of things that you try to get done in a set period of time, taking time to do practices that un-stress you like Yoga, exercise or meditation, reminding yourself to not sweat the small stuff, take time to appreciate all of the good things going on in your life, and take time to communicate love and gratitude to your family members. After all giving and receiving love is what holidays are all about.