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4 thanksgiving stressors + how to be thankful anyway

BeThankful
 

Here in the US, Thanksgiving is just a few days away. While the holiday should be filled with gratitude, but as the day grows near, it’s not unusual for people to feel more panicked than peaceful. The holiday—and, for many, the launch of the “holiday season”—is meant to remind us to be thankful, but with all of the extra stress—the family time, the meal preparations, and the pressure of getting the festivities just right—it can be difficult to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

But staying thankful, even during the most stressful moments, is one of the best ways to fill the day with peace and positivity. Below you'll find four potentially stressful situations you might encounter this Thanksgiving—and four ways you can be grateful for them. (And if you're not celebrating Thanksgiving, don't click off just yet—these might be situations you'll encounter during other holidays or even on a daily basis!)

 

Stressor No. 1 : Too much togetherness

You might love your family, but spending significant amounts of time with all of them at once can be a bit much. It’s hard not to get caught up in wanting to be somewhere else when you’ve had enough family time, but when you find yourself overwhelmed by those you love, take a moment to imagine life without them and be thankful for the moments you have with them.

 

Stressor No. 2 : Unexpected delays

Nothing ramps up holiday stress like an unexpected delay—a flight grounded by bad weather, a turkey taking way too long to cook. Instead of fretting about being late or having to wait, try to enjoy the extra time you have on your hands. Read an extra chapter or two in your book, call a loved one for a chat, or start a board game with the family. Rather than dwelling on the delay, be thankful for the surprise of extra time.

 

Stressor No. 3 : Maddening mishaps

Every year it happens: something goes wrong. The food’s burnt. The taboo topic is brought up. The guests who declined arrive anyway. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, choose to focus on what’s right. A mishap might shine a light on a minor catastrophe, but you have the option to redirect that beam to all that’s still going right. Be grateful for the things that have fallen properly into place.

 

Stressor No. 4 : Awkward interactions

During holiday festivities, you’re bound to encounter someone you’d rather not see, cueing awkwardness. Oddly enough, awkward feelings are something you should be grateful for. When you feel awkward, you have a chance to learn, to ask yourself what makes you uncomfortable and either choose to overcome or avoid it. Be thankful for that opportunity. 

 

We all know that it can be hard to stay thankful all day long on Thanksgiving, especially when the day is often filled with unexpected and atypical stress. But if you keep one thing in mind on the big day, let it be this: stay present.

Most of our stress is caused by focusing on the past—what a relative said or did last year that's still irking you, measuring this year's festivities to a past holiday that remember (perhaps not entirely accurately) as perfect, or continuing to fret over work-related issues that happened earlier in the week—or by focusing on the future—imagining the domino effect of delays that will occur when your flight is late, worrying about how you'll get all of the Christmas tasks crossed off in less than a month, or dwelling on what others will say about your cooking / attire / decor when they leave your family gathering. 

When we stress, we're in the past or the future. The present is what it is. When you don't compare it to what was or assess how it will impact what will be, you stay in the moment and you're able to enjoy more easily enjoy the moments you're in. Staying present amidst the holiday hecticness is challenging, but if you focus on the now, you'll find it much easier to stay positive, peaceful, and thankful this Thanksgiving. 

For those celebrating Thanksgiving this week, wishing you a positive day filled with love, laughter, and loads of delicious dishes! 


5 ways to cope with internal resistance

 

Almost every night as of late I go to sleep knowing exactly what I want to do the next day, enthusiastic and ready to take on the following day's tasks. I think to myself, I'm going to get up and write that blog post! Then I'm going to work on the book all morning! And then I'm going to spend the afternoon working on all the business-related tasks on my to-do list! And almost every morning I wake feeling resistant to doing any of the things I'd set my mind to the night before.

It's an odd feeling, this resistance, like an toddler in my brain, saying "No!" just for the hell of it, even though she really wants to be saying yes. Or maybe more like a teenager, refusing to partake in something she knows will be fun just because she feels like being difficult. Whatever she is—teenager, toddler, defiant inner devil—she's a brat, digging in her heels and refusing to cooperate just for the pure purpose of being difficult. Her resistance is like a rough push in the wrong direction, a little she-devil on my shoulder whispering, Wouldn't it just be more fun not to do the things you need to do?

The interesting thing is: the items on my to-do list are, for the most part, things I really like to do. Writing. Researching. Creating. And yet, as much as I love doing these things, lately I've been feeling very resistant to doing them. For quite awhile, I've been worrying about this—wondering why I've been so defiant with myself and trying to ignore the nagging voice in the back of my head saying, Why don't you want to do what you need to do? Is it because you don't like it? Are you on the wrong path in your life? What's wrong with you? 

And then, this morning, as I was hesitantly drafting up a blog post on a topic I felt lackluster about, I came across the image above via Maps to Herself on Pinterest. I've been wondering for some time if the resistance I've been feeling has been a sign of some sort—perhaps a sign that I'm not doing exactly what I should be doing—but when I read the words of Steven Pressfield, "The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it," I instantly realized it to be true. I wasn't resistant to doing things because I was on the wrong path; I was resistant because I was on the right path.

The right path is sometimes the harder path, the path that makes you push yourself and struggle and become better. The right path isn't the path of least resistance. Sometimes it's the path of most resistance.  Which, I'll be honest, kind of sucks. When you're living the dream, doing what you love for a living, you think it'll be awesome and effortless—yay! I get to write all day, every day!—but it's not a straight shot down Easy Street. It's a winding road with bumps and potholes, and there are roadblocks—and most of them, for me, are in the form of internal resistance. 

I've been letting the difficult trek get the best of me, pulling over for far too many long rests and making way too many needless stops in an attempt to avoid the resistance pushing back at me. But after reading that quote this morning, I've realized that the resistance need not be a roadblock. It can be transformed into fuel, something that can be used to propel me forward instead of pushing me back. Resistance of the internal variety isn't an easy thing to transform (especially considering it's hard to identify in the first place!), but I know there's a way to take that negativity and turn it into something positive. Here's my plan for coping with internal resistance: 

 

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