Stress Transformation for the Holidays

As you know, the holidays are coming. And, of course, they bring with them additional stresses (as if we weren’t stressed enough, already.)

But there are things you can do that will help you cope… and even more than cope, to overcome.

Now, I have no intention of rehashing all the things you can get at the other blogs, websites, and gurus. You can be overwhelmed just by trying to read all the advice that comes out at this time of the year, much less trying to implement it.

No, I don’t want you to do a bunch of things that you aren’t already doing. If you aren’t already using some those techniques to cope with the stress, you probably aren’t in much condition to do it now with added stresses. Of course, if you haven’t really been stressed yet and are just now looking for stress help, then go read all the other blogs on it. You will probably find something for you there.

Still with me? Great! First, remember that stress, in and of itself, is a part of life. The same struggles that are required for a butterfly to emerge from the cocoon are the same ones that build the muscles so that it can fly once it has emerged. So don’t think of stress as necessarily bad. Or that you can escape it.

Did you know that your body gets stressed when you see the love of your life or when you kiss said person? Very few people think of that kind of stress as bad. In fact, scientists call it eustress (good stress). This is opposed to distress (bad stress).

What makes distress instead of eustress? Mostly our stories. (I talked about our stories a bit in a recent newsletter.) Our stories are our interpretation of events. If you see someone coming towards you and you think it is your enemy, you will have a very different reaction than if you think it is your best friend. And when it turns out to be neither, you will still have a predisposition to treat the person the way you would treat whichever one he reminded you of. Stories.

So, as you enter this holiday time, instead of working on a big list of dos and don’ts to relieve stress, look at the stories you are telling yourself. Change the story and you change the meaning of the event. Change the meaning of the event and you change the way you handle the stress. You can actually turn the distress into eustress.

Have you ever turned distress into eustress? Or maybe you are trying to figure out how to know what stories you are telling? Either way, share with us by leaving a comment.

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Stress Transformation for the Holidays — 3 Comments

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  2. I completely agree with this! My husband gets on to me regularly for allowing so much “stress” in my life. I always think, “How can this stress be bad for me when it is bringing me so much life?” I know that our minds and bodies have their limits. But we can’t just do nothing.

    We can also train our minds to see the “stressful” events in our lives as a positive event. People often ask how my oldest daughter can just walk right in to an audition or performance without getting “nervous”. Well, truth is….she’s just never thought of it as nervousness. My college piano instructor taught me that our bodies have the exact same physiological response to fear is it does to excitement. So, if you can convince your body that what you’re about to do is exciting, then you don’t interpret those feelings as fear or nervousness. This is how I dealt with performances for my kids from the time they were preschoolers. It’s also how I encourage parents of my students to handle it with their own kids.

    Also on this “eustress/distress” topic. I’m looking forward very much to a week at home for Thanksgiving. Will I sit on the couch and nap all day? No way! I can only handle that for about a day. Instead, I’ll be decorating for Christmas, shopping with my girls, etc. I’m sure I’ll stay plenty busy…..but with different stuff. Stuff that I simply can’t make a priority when I’m working 9-12 hours a day. It’s a different kind of stress and busy-ness. One that will renew me.

  3. Those are great examples! Thank you for sharing that.

    We definitely don’t want to just lie about. We need to be active and engaged (both physically and mentally.) We can (and will) go crazy if we don’t.

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