Navigate Holiday Overwhelm by Boosting Your Immunity

It’s t-minus two weeks until the big day, which means, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the pace of most of our already hectic lives is approaching warp speed.

Schedules packed, to-do lists long and growing, rest and patience harder to come by than daylight during your evening commute.

Good news: you can still boost your immunity against holiday overwhelm.

It’s a simple procedure.

Just take in the good.

That’s it. No matter the level of holiday hyperactivity around you, simply notice the good. Early and often, for about 30 seconds each time.

This inoculation against holiday overwhelm costs nothing and the people around you don’t even have to buy into it – or even know you’re doing it – for it to be effective. (Bonus: they’re likely to benefit from your good-seeking, whether they’re aware of it or not.)

  • Stuck in the express lane at the grocery behind someone with way more than 15 items? Take a breath and contemplate the sheer amazingness of the variety of stuff in the store, like ten plus varieties of Oreos. How magical is that?
  • Stuck in traffic? Shift a tiny – and safe – bit of attention away from the road to notice the sunset. Oh, sorry, it’s after 4:00 p.m.? Maybe try star gazing. Safely.
  • Discover that the pet rabbit chewed the tree lights again this year, in spite of the fortress you constructed around the tree? Celebrate that she didn’t chew enough to be electrocuted and sent on a fast train over the rainbow bridge. (For the record, there has been no tree light nibbling in my house this year. So far.) 

Take in the good.

Here’s how taking in the good boosts your immunity to holiday overwhelm.

It just plain feels good. It broadens the mind and builds resources, drawing your attention the future, in a good, non-anxious way. And it helps you build the resilience you need to more easily rebound from challenges, of which there are plenty this time of year.

What about the inevitable challenges, annoyances, and downright bad things that happen?

I’ll never tell you to pretend away negative emotions. It doesn’t work and it saps your energy faster than the line at the return counter at Macy’s on December 26th.

There’s even new research showing that people who habitually accept negative emotions experience fewer of them.

So find a time that feels right to feel and express sadness and anger, and if you’re in true, present-tense danger, trust your body and fight or flee, whichever is safer.

Once you’re safe, boost your overwhelm immunity some more by taking in more good. Think of it as a booster of well-being an resilience.

Some studies suggest that the best dose is three experiences of taking in the good for every negative that crosses our path.

Don’t worry about adding three more things to your to-do list every time you’re cut off in traffic because frequency beats duration. Translation: look for three, quick instances of the good after every not-so-good thought or experience and hold on to that good feeling for about 30 seconds.

Take in the good, in small, continuous doses this holiday season and, come January, you’ll look back on this hectic, wonderful season with way more joy.

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