The holidays are often the source of just more added stress, if your life is already stressed. Stress is what happens when our expectations, externally or self imposed are unable to be meant due to a lack of resources.

Examples: not enough $$ for the holidays * not enough time to accomplish extra duties of the holidays * no communication/coping skills to deal with unpleasant relatives * control over addictions is exacerbated * simply not interested in the holiday but feeling an obligation to be

If you are struggling with addictions, they can be extra challenging during the season of merriment. Trying to stay on a diet, not drink, shop, gamble or whatever, a vacation time can now allow us time for those distractions that we ordinarily wouldn’t have. Family issues, traumas, old fears, and past resentments have many of us in a mind set of defeat.

You get the picture, so what can we do? We can use our Emotional Intelligence skills, we can be smart with our feelings. First as the boy scouts say, “Be Prepared.” For example: If you expect your family is going to be asking some uncomfortable questions, practice some appropriate answers. Being caught unexpectantly is not a good feeling for any of us and causes defenses to fly up.

Also be aware this is the time of the year you have to learn the most difficult word in the English language, NO! No to spending money, we don’t have, just to see the pleased look on our families faces, often means you will be paying for it all year long…more stress. No to accepting all the extra duties that people believe have to be brought into play due to traditions. Decorating, cooking, parties and gifts to everyone (hopefully hand made). Women seem to be most guilty of this inability to just say no.

Being smart with your feelings is having an understanding that the holidays are a sensitive time of the year for everyone. Remembering each of us has our struggles will give room for the empathy and compassion that the season was meant to reflect.

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