By Peggy Defazio LPC
Coastal Counseling & Consulting LLC
Holidays: Full of Fun or Stress?
The goal of these three articles on Holiday Stress was to help you deal with the holidays in a way that leaves you feeling less worn out. We’ve talked about deep breathing and taking care of yourself (part 1). We’ve also talked about looking at how you’re thinking about things (all-or-nothing thinking) and looking at your expectations to see if they’re reasonable (part 2). Today, we’re going to take a moment and try to figure out if what we’re stressing about is really that important.
If you’re still feeling stressed after trying the tips suggested before, it’s time to look at your priorities. Everyone has priorities in their lives and these priorities can change daily depending on our lives. We can usually identify our priorities by what we’re focused on. And, when our priorities clash with our personal values, we may feel stressed.
Remember when we were stressed because we were thinking that not having the right brand of dinner rolls was going to ruin the family holiday dinner and people were going to walk out angry? What do you think our priority was in this situation? I believe our priority was having the perfect meal for our family. This isn’t a bad thing, but if our personal values say that we should be focused on spending time with our family, we’re going to be stressed.
So, how do you identify your personal values? First, let’s define personal values. Personal values are those things we believe are important and give our lives purpose. When we feel especially good about a decision we’ve made, we’ve usually used our values. In the story about the dinner rolls, if hosting the perfect dinner was the value, then stressing about the rolls would be in-line and would make sense to us. For most of us though, we stress about things that we know are not that important – that are not in-line with our values.
Look at what you’re stressing about – is it in-line with your personal values? If not, you’re wasting time and energy that would be better spent focused on using your personal values.
I hope you have a joyous holiday season with manageable stress!
*** For help in identifying your personal values, check out the exercise on Carnegie Mellon University’s website (https://www.cmu.edu/career/documents/my-career-path-activities/values-exercise.pdf).