The holidays are coming … exciting fun and joy!
Yet why can this also be one of the most stressful times of the year for many?
Because of high expectations and family.
Stress can suddenly appear out of nowhere.
Something important doesn't work the way you have planned. Somebody unpleasant shows up suddenly. Or worse nothing happens because you are all alone.We'll talk about a few of these stresses to get you well prepared.
Good stress, bad stress
Don’t forget the holidays are a wonderful experience for most, especially if there are kids around. There is excitement, anticipation and preparation. Even if there are some big stresses with the holidays, much of the time it can be just a great experience. But one single bad thing can ruin it for you. So what is this thing with good stress - bad stress?
Hans Selye, the Austrian-Canadian genius, defined and researched stress. He talked about eustress and distress. Everybody knows distress. It 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 means good stress. With good stress you feel excited, challenged, motivated and fulfilled. Clearly for the holidays you want the good stress and not the bad.
Science tells us old survival brain causes all stress
You want the good stress, excitement, good feelings and fun with family and friends. It's important to know that bad stress comes from your old brain. The problem is that you don't have direct control over that. That part of your brain sits below your thinking brain. It does pretty much what it wants. Its function is to keep you safe. But it was created for very different circumstances.
Your old brain was created for you to survive as a hunter and gatherer 100,000s of years ago. Our brain hasn’t changed much since. It isn’t always working well in modern life. But it runs your feelings and your automatic reactions in your life anyway.
Your old brain and your holidays
To keep you safe the old brain "thinks" that any change is dangerous. It actually doesn't think. It make you feel uncomfortable if something changes which you are used to,
It is subconscious without logic.
The nature of its programs say, "you have survived thus far, therefore we don't want to change a thing." That is the main reason even the unfortunate things you do in your life are 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. Your dad or teacher criticized you, somebody hit you, treated you badly, anything like that. Here are two examples how this works.
Say your mom made Christmas perfect.
Everything was beautiful and every detail was perfection, from Christmas tree to dinner table, from gifts prepared to food and drink. Perhaps she didn't go to work and had the time to make it perfect. Perhaps it wasn’t perfect but you remember it as such. But now you are a working mom already stretched to the limit.
Can you relax and have a simpler Christmas?
Can you now change, make dinner easy, use paper plates and buy the ham or turkey cooked? Or make a healthy easy veggie meal? You see it’s not easy to break old traditions. And if you do some others may complain. It would be logical to make it easy, yet your old brain has no logic. It just wants you to do things the same way your family always has done.
Or something worse… on holidays your family was not a happy place. There was tension, silence or sharp words, too much alcohol and verbal fights. Some may even have experienced violence. Unfortunately your old brain thinks that is okay. You did survive and therefore all that happened is important to help you live another day. Change is not natural or easy. You may need help from people who are well qualified.
What do you want?
This is important. Take inventory. Write it down. What do you want? What worked well, what did you like in past holidays? 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, what feels good! The old brain works with feelings, not with logic.
Why is it a good thing to write it down?
Again, it is your old brain. As you 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 fully involved. Therefore, write down what you like.
Write down some features of the happy past. That will give both your thinking brain and your old brain a pleasant 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 there is no pain. Write down specific ways for each problem to not occur. Some examples:
Your old brain loves to see it crossed out
Now cross off each item you don’t want off the list. This communicates better to your subconscious. Next read out loud all the good things. Again your old brain hears it and will change more easily.
Old wisdom and new
Why is your old brain so powerful? Why does it make you do things you don't really want? Why are you not even aware of it?
"If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got!"
How does it stop you from trying something new? It will cause you stress! And stress will pull a lot of blood quite fast and automatically 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 report for you with all the dangers caused by your old brain and stress, click here and get your free copy.
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. 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.
Learn more and a gift idea:
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And make your holidays simple, easy, fun.
Create new memories in your old brain to be proud of!
Warm regards, Fred & Judy
Fred George Sauer, MS, MS Eng, Chief Stress Coach, Performance & Productivity Specialist
Judith Lynch-Sauer, PhD, RN, Scientific Advisor, Clinical Professor of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing ret.
Fred George Sauer Founder of SciStress
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