Coping with Holiday Stress

The following is a guest post from Stephen Thomas at Life Change For You!, as part of my series on How to Survive the Holidays & Maintain Balance.

During the holidays there can be a lot of stress and I would like to address one very important kind and my solution to it. Coping with holiday stress can take the fun out of family gatherings and worse, create tension in relationships.

During the holiday season, there are gatherings for celebrations and sharing of meals. We fill the house to overflowing with people that we see often and those we do not. We also fill the house with people we get along with and those we don’t, or at least not so well. This is the process I have used in the past. Now I will admit that I have not always remembered to use this technique and those times, unfortunately, did not go as well as the times I have.

Okay, enough build up. Here is the technique. I love to watch people. When my wife and I go to the mall, she shops and I watch people. I like to sit on one of those benches and watch people walk by. As I watch, I ask myself questions about them. Why do they dress that way? Who are they and what makes them tick? What kind of hardship has life thrown at them and how did that mold who they are? If given the chance, how would they change their life?

When I am in a holiday family gathering, I try to do the same thing. I get myself into the mall mode and watch people. I look at them and their life without judgment. I ask myself the same types of questions. Who are they really and what is their life like? What is it they are trying to say with their words and their actions?

This allows me to let Aunt Mable’s comment about my favorite sweater go and realize that she is just a bitter woman who needs to cut down others so she doesn’t feel so worthless herself. I can watch my niece’s son stick his snot covered fingers directly into the jello bowl and feel her embarrassment, instead of wanting to strangle the little devil.

You may think that this technique is impersonal and that I am being unloving. I fell nothing of the sort! Using this way of looking at people helps me to see past their faults and learn to love them as they are and for who they are. Granted, my mental images and reasons for what they do or say may be far from the truth, their truth, but it helps me to see them as people. We so often label others and forget that they are human just like us and they are trying to live life as best they can, just like us.

You may not like this mall mode of thinking to cope with holiday stress, but for me, it works much better than getting into a huge fight or getting so inebriated that nothing bothers me. Whatever your method of coping with holiday stress, may you have a very blessed holiday season.

You might also like…
How to Survive the Holidays and Maintain Balance
How to Beat Holiday Stress and Busyness
How to Enjoy Holiday Food Without the Weight Gain
13 Ways to Save Money & Beat the Stress of Holiday Shopping & Gift Giving
How to Change Expectations During the Holidays or Anytime


  1. Thanks for the change to do this Rich! Your site is great!

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