Holiday Stress

4962228357Stress is common at this time of year, and there are many approaches to dealing with it. Last Sunday the Press Democrat ran a feature article, Easing the Holiday Stress. The article included tips from two Songbird practitioners: Terry Trapp on nutrition & herbs and Joann Bostow on being alone. Eoanna Passidakis talked about visualization and breathing. Eoanna will be holding a vision board workshop and repeating her Art of Relaxation workshop at Songbird this month. A few weeks ago Susan Hammond’s newsletter focused on heading off stress through releasing jaw tension. Since my focus is the Toltec path, I decided to focus this month on stress from the spiritual perspective of the Four Agreements: Be Impeccable with Your Word, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.

I often find myself starting to get stressed when I have too much to do or when I am not enjoying what I am doing. I can list the specific items in my life that cause stress and leave it at that, but there is a deeper layer: my belief system. These are the judgments and assumptions about what I should be doing, what others should be doing, or what should be happening in my life. When people don’t do what I want them to do, I sometimes take it personally and get stressed. The stress is caused by resisting the flow of life.

At this time of year, you might have been stressing because of all the things you believe needed to get done and how you wanted the holidays to look. You might have been telling yourself, “I need to shop for everyone in my family and extended family. I need to get the latest gadgets. I need to cook and bake. I need to send out holiday cards. I need to have a clean house. I need to put up a Christmas tree. I’m behind schedule on doing everything I need to do. I need to spend Christmas with family members I don’t like. I shouldn’t be working on Christmas. I shouldn’t be alone on Christmas. I should be celebrating in a particular way, and everybody else should be celebrating it my way….”

These voices in your head are beliefs that you were taught when you were growing up. Consciously or unconsciously you were raised to believe that things should be a certain way. And now you stress when things don’t fit the perfect picture you have created in your head.

Letting go of your attachment to your picture of how things “should” be can help you shift your stress. Try replacing the words “need” and “should” with “choose.” Every action in your life is a choice. You are choosing to shop because you prefer that to not shopping. If you don’t prefer it, then don’t shop. When you act in this way, you are being impeccable with your word.

Make the choices that make you happy with full understanding of what might be the consequences of your choices. Often by happily acting from a place of empowered choice instead of stressfully acting because you believe you need to, you will find that the attitudes of the other people in your life and the results change as well. Happiness can be contagious! Release your beliefs and release your stress!