How to Keep Your Emotions in Check During Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for many people, and that can lead to poor decisions. Here are five things to remember before you say or do something you’ll regret at the company holiday party or family gathering.

A few days before last Christmas, I was in an elevator with a prominent criminal attorney. During our conversation, he mentioned that he is always busiest during Christmas, New Year’s, and other times when individuals are under more stress than usual. He said that generally, crimes of passion, sexual abuse, and battery rise when people are under stress. He warned, “When people are stressed-out, they make their absolute worst choices!”

Toxic emotions (for example, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, alienation, hurt, rejection, and the like) and stress can block or dismantle your reasoning processes and the use of your best judgment. It can also amp up the voltage of the energy charges generated by your potentially toxic emotions. Therefore, it’s essential for you to do your very best not to make important life choices when you are under an emotional barrage or high stress.

In my book, Your Killer Emotions: The 7 Steps to Mastering the Toxic Emotions, Urges, and Impulses That Sabotage You I discuss the seven steps of emotion mastery, which enable you to make highly beneficial life choices — free from sabotaging emotions, urges, and impulses.

Here are some holiday suggestions to keep you under “wraps” this season when you’re at the company holiday event or family reunion or among the hustle and bustle:

1. First and foremost: DO NOT make an important decision or choice when you are overcome by emotions or stress! Always, stop, cool down, and, as they say, “take the pause that refreshes.” Additionally, DO NOT opt for an immediate, emotional quick fix, response, or retaliation. Oftentimes, we opt for these short-term satisfactions, but in the big picture of our lives, these unthinking, emotion-generated reactions are counter and highly detrimental to accomplishing what we truly want for ourselves in the long term.

2. Be “consequence cognizant,” which requires you to carefully think about and vividly visualize:

a. The most severe and heinous consequences that a poor/destructive emotionally charged choice on your part can have on your life, your career, and/or those you love; and

b. The most positive, beneficial outcome(s) that you will secure because you took the requisite time to strategically choose the most constructive course of action.

3. If it’s appropriate, try to truly understand where the other individual who is pushing your emotional buttons or evoking a potential toxic emotion-generated response from you is coming from. Strive to see things from their point of view. Chat with the person in an open and non-defensive manner. Oftentimes, learning where others are coming from brings understanding, as well as sympathy/empathy, which can diffuse and thereby lessen the strong energy charges generated within you by potentially toxic emotions.

4. Another means to diffuse your emotion-generated energy charges is to take a moment to think about all of the blessings and positives in your life. This can help you to cool down from the angst of the moment, so that you are then better able to think clearly and strategically.

5. You should NOT make important holiday choices when you are tired, experiencing high levels of stress, or have had too much caffeine. Additionally, you NEVER want to make important choices when you’re under the influence of alcohol or clarity-impairing medicinal or recreational drugs. Your goal is to be cognitively clear and precise when making holiday choices. Therefore, you want to stay away from anything that can impair your cognitive processes.

Your takeaway here is that we all experience high levels of stress and potentially toxic emotions during the holidays. I use the word “potentially” because these emotions are toxic to you and your well-being if they trigger destructive and/or self-sabotaging acts on your part. What you want to do in these instances, is to not emotionally react in these situations, but to instead strategically and constructively choose your actions. Channel the potential negative energies that you experience into positive, life-enhancing endeavors — thereby using your emotions and their energy charges as your valuable allies.

The sweet result may well be that you will make positive, life-enhancing holiday choices, as well as gain (increased) feelings of high self-esteem, self-worth, and the core confidence to achieve your most cherished goals.

Ken Lindner graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University, where his honor’s thesis was devoted to the science of decision-making. He later graduated from Cornell Law School, where he focused on conflict resolution. He currently owns and operates Ken Lindner and Associates, Inc.

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