The holidays are just around the corner. How can we prepare in a way that will decrease your stress, not add to it?
I remember one year when my children were young, I got up at 4am to go to a Black Friday sale. I stood in line for hours and ended up buying toys I never would have bought otherwise. I felt I would be missing out on a deal if I didn’t. And after all, the more gifts under the tree, the merrier my family would be, right?
For many of us, rather than holidays being a time of fun, connection and spirituality, they are a time of stress, anxiety and depression. As I wrote in Don’t Feed The Monkey Mind, there are two core fears or primordial threats we all share in common. The first is loss of life or safety and security in the form of finances, food and shelter. Around the holidays especially, we feel fearful of not having enough, whether it is money for gifts, a trip, or holiday decorations.
Our number two core fear is the loss of social status, belonging and respect from others. What better time of year than this to compare ourselves to others who may have more money, better gifts, more family connections, even cuter holiday cookies!
When our core fears are activated, we feel anxious, jealous, inadequate. These feelings are not comfortable, and we want to get rid of them so we try harder to accumulate and do more. Our commercial culture goads us on, reinforcing the monkey mindset that to be more secure, connected and happy, we must act, leading to an endless cycle of stress, frantic activity and more stress. This is what I call “feeding the monkey”.
Instead of letting the monkey mind lead us forward into the holidays, why not use this season as an opportunity to practice our true personal values? Which of these values are ones that are important to you around the holidays?
LOVE FUN HUMOR FLEXIBILITY CONNECTION AUTHENTICITY ACCEPTANCE
COMPASSION PEACE PRESENCE GROWTH RESILIENCE SPIRITUALITY KINDNESS
We can plan the holidays in a way that honors the values that are truly important to us, not the fearful monkey mindset our culture encourages. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, working harder and buying more, the holidays can be a time to break from routine, to reflect and to be present with those we care about, including ourselves.