Holiday STRESS can ruin it all
The holidays are coming. That's exciting, so much fun and joy! And yet this can also be one of the most stressful times of the year. Stress can suddenly jump up right in front of you where you least expect it. Something important doesn't work the way you planned, somebody who has hurt you shows up suddenly, or worse nothing happens and you are all alone. We'll talk about a few of these to get you well prepared.
Good stress, bad stress
Let's not forget that for most people the holidays are a wonderful experience. There is excitement, anticipation and preparation. Even if there are some big stresses with the season, much of the time it can be a great experience. And just as well one single bad thing can ruin it. So what is this thing with good stress - bad stress?
Hans Selye, the Austrian-Canadian genius, researched and defined stress. He talked about eustress and distress. Everybody knows what distress is all about. It's something which makes you feel bad, unhappy, scared or angry. A lot of distress will even make you sick. Eustress is just the opposite. "Eu" comes from Greek and means good. So eustress literally means good stress. With good stress you feel excited, challenged, motivated and fulfilled. So for the holidays you want the good stress and not the bad.
Your old brain causes all this stress
You want the good stress, the excitement, the good feelings with family and friends. It's important to know that bad stress comes from your old brain. The big problem with the old brain is that you don't have direct control over it. That part of your brain sits deep down in your skull below your thinking brain. It pretty much does what it wants.
Its function is to keep you safe, but that was created for very different circumstances. Your old brain was created for you to survive as a hunter and gatherer tens of thousands of years ago. It can't change quickly enough for modern life. But it is your old brain which runs your decisions, your feelings and your automatic reactions in your life.
Your old brain and your holidays
To keep you safe the old brain "thinks" that any change is dangerous. It basically tells you to keep things the same. It actually doesn't think. Your old brain is subconscious and has no logic.
First and foremost the nature of old brain programs say, "you have survived this far, therefore we don't want to change anything." This is the main reason that even the unfortunate things you do in your life are so difficult to change. That's true for example for too much eating, drinking, smoking, etc. and worse!
The second thing your old brain does, it keeps score of all the bad things which ever happened to you. It actually controls our long-term memory.
E.g., your dad or teacher criticized you, somebody hit you, treated you badly, anything like that will be recorded. Here are two examples of how this works.
Say your mom made each holiday perfect. Everything was beautiful and every detail was perfection, for example from Thanksgiving turkey to table settings, from guest list to menu and drinks. Perhaps she didn't go to work and had the time or she ran herself ragged to make it perfect. Perhaps now you are the working parent already stretched to the limit.
Be honest, having her example can you relax and have a simpler holiday? Can you now change, make dinner easy, use paper plates and buy the turkey already cooked? You see this sounds so simple but is not easy. This would be logical for you to do and yet your old brain has no logic and says no. It just wants you to do things the same way your family has always done.
Or let’s look at something worse … On holidays your family home was not a happy place. There might be tension, opinionated righteousness, then sharp words, too much alcohol and verbal fights. And some of you may even have experienced violence. Unfortunately your old brain thinks that is okay. You did survive and thus the old brain programs say that all that happened is important to help you survive now again. Those subconscious programs need a lot of effort and commitment from you to change. You might need help from people experienced in such work, well qualified and familiar with modern techniques which help you fast.
What do you want?
This is important. Take inventory. Write it down. What do you want? What worked well, what did you like in holidays of past? What did you see others do that was both easy and was fun? What else would feel good and make it fun for you and yours?
To get control over old brain impulses it is important you start with what you want and what you like!
Why is it a good thing to write it down?
Again, it is your old brain. As you move to write, get your paper or tablet - hey, not ancient stone tablet - your old brain gets activated and starts to pay attention. Actually, the stone tablet was only half a joke; to carve it into stone really would get your old brain really involved. So write down what you like. Write down some features of the happy past. That will give both your thinking brain and your old brain focus. Your emotions will be positive and strong.
Try something different
Now think of things you don't want, past events on holidays which led to pain. Next think of ways to plan your holidays which will make sure these don’t recur. Write down specific ways for each problem not to happen again. Some examples:
Now cross off each item on the list that you don’t want.
Your old brain wants some action, so crossing it out makes it more real.
This will tell your subconscious it's not needed anymore. Next read out loud all the good things you are planning. Again your old brain hears it and will change with greater ease.
Old wisdom and the new
Why is your old brain so powerful? Why does it make you do things you don't really want anymore? Why are you not even aware of it?
Old wisdom: "If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got."
How does your old brain stop you from trying something new? It will cause stress! And stress will pull a lot of blood automatically (up to 70%) from your new brain where all your thinking happens. Your thinking brain has no more oxygen, you feel fogged up, anxious and not clear. Actually, we wrote a special report with all 10 dangers caused by stress, click here and get it free.
Easy way to manage old brain stress
Your brain is fogged up, no clear thinking, procrastination, indecision.
That is what happens without oxygen in your "new" brain, the only place where you have logic and can think. What can you do? How do you get oxygen and blood where you now need it most?
There is a simple answer your old brain likes.
Get out and move! Take a brisk walk, go to the gym, do your favorite workout! Get breathing deeply, work up some sweat. Now your blood flows full of oxygen. Your thinking brain works well again. Clarity, energy and focus have returned. Now you can make new decisions and take new actions with success.
This is the best time to make new plans, be well prepared and now create your holidays to be refreshing, full of fun. Leave out the drudgery, complexities and stress. KISS, Keep It Simple Smart one,
Make your holidays simple, easy, fun. Create new memories for your old brain to be proud of!
Best wishes for a great Thanksgiving and all the coming holidays from your still not totally stress-free stress coach,
Fred George Sauer
Fred George Sauer Founder of SciStress
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