Coping with stress during holidays

Stress during the holidays? Those of you who never experience it need not read any further. But for the rest of us … let us think about it. What exactly is it that is causing us stress and why would we actually continue to do that to ourselves??? Wait a second, are you saying, you are not doing it to yourself? It is just what it is, what else can one do? Let me suggest that we human beings do not do anything that is not aimed at meeting at least one of our needs. In a first step I would like you to ask yourself what need of yours you are actually meeting by whatever you are getting yourself into during the holidays. A lot of you may say that you are only doing it for others. If that is true, you could actually be trying to meet your need to contribute to your loved ones or other’s wellbeing. I believe if you focus on meeting that need and witness the joy you bring, you shall not experience too much negative stress. If you still do, ask yourself instead if you can really enjoy your strategy and consequently be enjoyable for your loved ones if you put too much onto your own plate. In other words, is your strategy truly suited to meet your needs? Or are you one of us trying to avoid potential reprimand and judgment, pacifying someone else’s perceived demands? In this example you may be trying to meet your need for emotional safety, harmony, self- and other-acceptance. If this sounds more applicable and you still proceed with your strategy, at least translate your thoughts into a language of choice: “I choose to do what I am doing because it meets my need for X, Y, or Z.” The reason for this being beneficial is that we tend to resent the perception of being a victim of external circumstances or others’ demands.

To capture the essence of these examples, I encourage you to apply the following steps to avoid the stress trap around this year’s and future holidays:

  1. Become very clear about what needs you are actually trying to meet during this time of the year.
  2. Ask yourself if the strategies you are applying are truly the best suited to meet these needs.
  3. Translate any perceived ‘shoulds, musts, need and have to’s’ into a language of choice: “I choose to … because I value … “ and come to a place of appreciation of your choices that meet some very important needs of yours.

I wish all of you blessed holidays that best meet your needs, after identifying all that are involved in your decision making process.



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About Udo Fischer

My name is Udo Fischer and I have been practicing psychotherapy in Naples for five years. Trained in clinical psychology and neuropsychology in Europe I further deepened my skills at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Philadelphia. In Germany I conducted research with Prof. Dr. Rainer Sachse, a thought leader in the treatment of somatoform and personality disorders. A second mentor was Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schulte, president of the German Behavior Therapy Association and leading researcher for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.
Besides resolving clinical issues I apply a communication, conflict management, mediation approach that has been successfully applied in corporate and diplomatic contexts as well. My success rate with couples in crises is 100% assumed that both parties are motivated to resolve their issues amicably.