How to Overcome Holiday Overwhelm

The Holidays can be a bit intense for some of us.  It’s not all joy, hugs and laughter for everyone. It can even be stressful for children who are wondering if they have been “good enough” this year, to make it on the “Nice List” and score a gift or two from Santa.  It’s not unusual, to feel overwhelmed before, during and after the holiday season. If you believe that you should only feel happy emotions during the holidays, you’re bound to be disappointed.

Feeling Overwhelmed by the Holiday Season?

Feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do, lack of money for gifts, making time to meet your family obligations, or anything else that has you feeling stressed, has the potential to turn you into Ebenezer Scrooge.  So how can we gain control and get relief from the feelings of overwhelm?

How to Overcome Overwhelm

First, we need to understand how the mind works.  Every feeling you have originates from thought. Your feelings are not coming from your list of things to do, your low bank balance, or the daunting task of finding time to visit your family during the holidays.  The feeling of overwhelm is coming from the way you perceive those issues. If you can recognize this simple truth about how the mind works, it is possible to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, in a relatively short amount of time… even during the holidays.

No Money for Gifts

Let’s imagine the problem is you don’t have the money to buy the things you would like to buy for your children for Christmas. You might have this thought; “I don’t want to disappoint my kids!”.  With that thought, you may or may not notice, that you are now feeling tension in your neck and shoulders. That thought, is followed by a vision of your kids waking up on Christmas morning, to find absolutely nothing under the tree.  In your mind, you see them sobbing, distraught, and staring at you with something very close to disgust on their faces.

At this point, you may have a tight feeling in your chest, there is a lump in your throat, and tears are beginning to fill your eyes.  Unconsciously, you may be thinking “What kind of parent can’t afford to buy gifts for their kids at Christmas?” You may be conscious or unconscious of these thoughts, spent several sleepless nights worrying about the lack of money for gifts.  You probably ruminate on the problem for the better part of each day. Your mind is tied up in knots and you haven’t come up with a single solution. At this point, your mind is in no condition to resolve the problem.

When you become overwhelmed, your system is trying to tell you that it’s time to take a step back from the issue. If an unpleasant thought comes to mind, and you give it lots of your attention, more thoughts of that same nature will follow.  Each new scary thought building on the one before it. The feeling of angst that comes with those thoughts, is a warning. It is your inner guidance system telling you that you are heading in the wrong direction… your thoughts are running amuck.

Recognize the Warning Signs

To reduce the amount of time you spend feeling overwhelmed, during the holiday season and throughout the year, learn to recognize the warning signs. Stop trying to resolve problems, with your intellect.  I understand, if this suggestion is the opposite of what you feel compelled to do. However, the truth is that your best course of action, may be to take no action at all… at least for now.  The more you try to figure out what to do, or agonize about the unknown, the more locked down your mind will become.    As counter-intuitive as that sounds, stepping away from the problem, may be the key to finding a solution.

Why This Works

Have you ever gotten a brilliant idea while driving, going for a walk or taking a shower?   This is the same principle. You can’t force a solution to come, but when you are overwhelmed, it’s even more difficult to get a creative thought.   Allow your mind and your nerves to settle down, have patience, and solutions are more likely to appear.

Easier said than done, you say? Who said it would be easy?  But seriously, it actually takes more effort than you may realize, to keep a disturbing thought alive.  Does this scenario sound familiar?  A thought comes into your awareness, and instead of letting it pass through, you analyze it. Then you ponder the meaning, and then scare yourself to death with the alarming future you just conjured up in your head.  You become anxious or fearful and wonder why your stomach is in knots and your heart rate is up. The terrible problem feels very real, but actually, the problem only exists in your mind.

Thoughts are Transient

What if you just let the thought pass through, like a cloud in the sky?  Clouds eventually move on. Thoughts are just as transient. If you let the thoughts pass through, when your mind settles down and clears, overwhelm will dissipate. Insight and creativity will take over. The solution could come to you very quickly, or it could take awhile to appear, but an answer will come. Seemingly, from out of the blue, you will know what to do with regard to gifts, family gatherings and everything else.  

Wishing You a Happy and Blessed Holiday Season.

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