Archive for December, 2005

That Time of Year…..Again

Sunday, December 4th, 2005

Suddenly, the weather is frightful and it almost seems like a cruel joke that we are pressured all at once with holiday preparations, on top of year-end demands and having to pile on more layers of clothing all at the same time! Understandably, multi-tasking and “tyranny of the shoulds” abound.

Overwhelmed and unfocused?

There is no way to avoid stress at this time of year, but here are some of my ideas for managing it:


1. Ask yourself: “What’s actually bothering me?” Then, investigate further. If you are feeling threatened, distrustful or imposed upon, look for an underlying fear. If you are anxious, see if there is some unconscious hurt or anger. What do you think you might lose?

2. Consider whether this is an isolated incident or a pattern of incidents. If it is isolated, or a one time event, you might be interested in delaying a response/reaction until you gain more information. If it is a repetitive issue, what do you think the pattern means? Has this happened with other individuals/situations, or does it tend to reoccur only with this person/condition?

3. Is this historical or grounded in the present? Does the stressful condition bring up memories or feelings of past, similar experiences? Are you having more difficulty dealing with it because of emotions or relationships which are unresolved from prior times?

4. Examine your expectations. Did you anticipate or expect a different reaction/action/or response? Is your expectation realistic considering the people/conditions?

5. Consider what you want to have happen. Is there anything you can do to create this preferred outcome? What would be the consequences to your taking this action? Are you willing to accept those consequences?

6. Go to the mat with yourself about what/whom you are trying to control. Investigate whether it is possible/useful to do so. Trying to control/change someone else’s attitude/behavior/feelings is usually a vacant effort. What can you change/control/accept in yourself?

7. Create an intellectual separation between the incident, your feelings and a reaction. Disengage from your desire to make something happen. Decide whether you want to fight this battle. Ask yourself, “is this worth doing anything about?” What if you do nothing? Sometimes a little creative procrastination saves a lot of future work or fix up efforts.

8. Apply the WIM test: Will it Matter in Matter in 24 seconds, 24 minutes, 24 hours? If you can delay a response/reaction for a day, sleep on it. To prepare for this wait, you can write a letter to save and review, make a list of action steps you can take, research your potential resources and support systems. Review these lists after 24 hours and consider other options before acting.

9. Ask a confidente/coach/mentor for his/her perspectives on your planned response/action. Listen and be open to the advice.

10. Identify one small step which will make a small change. Then, based on the result, build, shift gears, change direction.

Some practical help is available on the web, as well.

A major stressor for many of us is working our way through endless voice mail cues when we want to ask a simple question or resolve a problem that is not on the pre-defined menue. Trying to speak to a REAL person to resolve a bill or order a product? Here is a site that will help you bypass the system and connect:

Try the IVR Cheat Sheet by Paul English.

And try these sites for some stress relief tools:

Wishing you Peaceful and Happy Holidays!