10 Holiday Stress Busters

As a young child, I remember experiencing the magic of the holiday season. Sure, there were disagreements and stressful situations that I watched my family wade through year after year, though I don’t remember those times as clearly as I do the happy moments. I remember great food, fun, and spending time with loved ones. (I also remember the year I received my first mountain bike and a set of hit stix.)

Things certainly do change as we get older, don’t they? Long lines, family drama, loneliness, a long list of expenses, and stress too often replace the memories of childhood magic.

What if you could get back some of that magic? Check out these 10 ways to take the stress out of the holidays.

Rose Skeeters

1. Budget for the Holidays.

Overspending during the holidays not only stresses you out while you’re doing it, but continues into the future when the credit card and bank statements arrive in January. Make a realistic budget early, carefully review it, and then stick to it!

2. Plan Holiday Activities.

Double-booking activities on the same day can result in frustrated family members and lost opportunities. Avoid this stress by planning and discussing with the family beforehand. Also, decide what’s important, prioritize, and say “no” to what you can’t handle.

3. Work in Some Alone Time.

Do not choreograph, plot, and plan out every hour of the holidays. Factor in some alone time for the sake of your mental health. Close your eyes, take several deep breaths, and meditate or just relax.

4. Be Open to Change.

Talk with your kids about your traditions- which ones they love and which you might evolve. This is especially important when family dynamics have changed. Don’t be too rigid. Use common sense and accept changes to the original plan.

5. Delegate.

To stay sane and reduce stress, delegate holiday tasks to friends and family members. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Delegate first, and then follow-up for extra peace of mind.

6. Prep Your Kids.

Factoring in kids’ limitations when you make plans will reduce stress on everyone. Not overestimating your kids’ patience and ability to focus will help you enjoy yourself more too. Holidays represent a change in a family’s normal schedule, and for some kids, that’s unsettling. Preparing them for these changes will help head off meltdowns.

7. Wrap & Ship Early.

Last-minute gifts can bust your budget and your sanity! Plan your shopping and avoid doing anything impulsively. Wrap everything as soon as it is purchased and ship gifts to loved ones far in advance.

8. Be Sure to Laugh.

Kids pick up their parents’ stress and tension. Have of sense of humor, enjoy your kids for who they are, and keep in mind that what you’ll all remember is likely to be the unexpected moment when everybody was relaxed, not the brilliantly choreographed events.

9. Volunteer.

Take time to volunteer at your church, homeless shelter, or community center with your family and friends. Model being a bucket filler this season.

10. Exercise Regularly.

Everyone does their best to trash their bodies during the holiday season. We eat way too much rich and fatty foods, and often drink too much. The best thing to do about the unavoidable overindulgence is to exercise regularly.

Following these 10 tips will help ease the stress of the holiday season so that you can reclaim the magic of the season this year. Download our FREE Infographic below. Looking for more support this season? Schedule an intake now.

Home for the Holidays

3 Key Steps to Connect with Family (especially during the holidays) 

In order to connect more deeply with family over the holidays, it’s important to figure out how to respect them as people in the world. After all, everyone is trying to do the best they can with what they have, right?

My Italian family from Philly set the standard for holiday traditions– lots of delicious food, great company, suffocating blankets of guilt, good family drama, and excessive, over-the-top gifting. We always had waaaayy too much of EVERYTHING. (Parents, if you think your children would somehow be emotionally scarred for having just a few meaningful gifts, think again. The more gifts we got, the less the intention of gifting mattered and the more we expected those gifts…)  Holidays were intense all around– intensely joyful and just plain old intense.

When we grew up, they became more intense than joyful, especially before having children. Unspoken rules about gifts and competition for the best gift given, arguing and belittling the “chef” of the holiday for having a menu that was “subpar”, showing up late and leaving early only after complaining the whole time, and my all-time favorite: instead of saying hello, our family loves to say: “Look who showed up. You never come see me.” That one always gets me scratching my head and wondering if I slept through their visits or phone calls to our house… 

Jokes aside, the holidays don’t have to be that way– even if no one else in your family will change, you can choose to make this holiday season into the best one yet by following these 3 expert steps on how to connect with family during the holiday season. 

STEP 1. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT EACH PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY IS CAPABLE OF.

The first thing that you need to do to start on the path of dealing with and respecting your family members is to figure out what each individual person in your family is actually capable of. Make a list for everyone individually. Furthermore, break down all of the behaviors that they get engage in–both good and bad.  Do they show up late? Leave early? Do they make judgmental or hurtful comments? Maybe they make the world’s best stuffed mushrooms or bring the best desserts? Write it down.

STEP 2. WRITE DOWN THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER.

Put the first list aside. Now, make a list of everything that you expect of each person in your family. What are all the things that you wish they would do and they haven’t? What are all the things that you expect from them? Maybe you feel like your expectations are already low? Do you wish the family member would be kind, show up on time, and still bring those delicious desserts? Write it all down. Remember that you will need to do each step for each individual family member.

STEP 3. COMPARE THE LISTS YOU MADE IN STEPS 1 & 2

Finally, put both list 2 and list 1 side by side. Do you notice any similarities or differences? What do you see?

Let’s say your lists looked like these:

Uncle Boomer’s Capabilties

  • always late
  • leaves early
  • funniest Uncle
  • makes rude comments at times
  • makes the best lasagna
  • loves the holidays
  • says no one ever visits him

My Expectations for Uncle Boomer

  • be on time
  • be nice
  • bring lasagna
  • connect with others
  • stop being passive aggressive

Did you notice that my expectations for Uncle Boomer exceed his capabilities in several areas? Uncle Boomer has been late to almost every function for as long as I can remember. Expecting him to be on time doesn’t make any sense. If your Uncle hasn’t been on time in years, why would he be on time this Thanksgiving? As a result of his choice, you can also choose to accept that Uncle Boomer will be late and that that is okay because it is his choice, not a reflection of his entire relationship with you.

It seems reasonable to expect family to be nice to each other, right? But what if your family members are insecure in some areas of their life and have a difficult time connecting genuinely to others? What if Uncle Boomer doesn’t perceive his comments to be rude and thinks they are funny? Does anyone smile when he says things? Put yourself in the person’s shoes. Do they see the world exactly as you do? Are you assuming that they do? Expecting someone that you claim to love to be someone that they are not is not fair. It will only create resentment and disrespect between both parties in the relationship. If you wish to be respected, it is a good idea to respect others too. This means putting yourself in their shoes and choosing to see the world from their point-of-view.

Every single person has valleys and dark times just like yours. Above all, respecting others for who they have become and loving them even when they can’t meet your expectations is the right thing to do.

Rose Skeeters

Not an Excuse for Rude Behavior…

This doesn’t mean letting a family member treat you poorly. It means not being surprised when Uncle Boomer makes a rude comment and hurts your feelings AND it means letting him know that what he said was mean. Tell the truth and set boundaries. Choose to take control of your own life experience this holiday season. In order to build better relationships and deeper connections with people, especially members of your family that you currently consider difficult or toxic, you must be willing to see the world from their perspective – to have empathy for them.

Following these tips will improve your experience dramatically this year, guaranteed. Need more help? Let’s schedule a time to chat.

Who Are You?

Who Are You?

Our Behavior is Not a Reflection of Our Character 

Throughout our lives, we have all hurt people with our behaviors. Sure our behaviors are intended for a positive result but that is only OUR positive intended result. When our behavior hurts someone else, does that simply reduce us down to a bad person? What about when we do something nice for someone else?

Many Hats

We all wear many hats in our own little ecosystems. For me, it is husband, step-father, coach/trainer, student, protector, etc. I try my best to elevate my capabilities in all of these elements that make up who I am. What are the different hats you wear and how often are you trying to improve in each element?

We are all trying the best we can no matter where we are and what we are doing, so seeking to improve can only make you better.

“I don’t mean to be rude but…”

Sometimes we can be hurt by others through their behaviors and it is easy to just label them by how you perceive them to be instead of how they are acting in the hat they are currently wearing. Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t mean to be rude but…” and then they say something rude? Basically they are saying, I need to point something out that I am observing, and you may not like it. Now, if what they said made you upset with them, you are only upset with them because you are allowing yourself to be negatively impacted by their words due to your own insecurities or memories of being in a similar situation prior to this interaction.

Actively thinking about the positive outcome that they intend can help reduce the negative reaction that you may have. What is important however, is that you don’t just label them a bad person–after all, we have all said or done something that came out wrong or completely fell apart.

If everyone made these assumptions, we would have never escaped childhood without major insecurities and traumatic memories.

We can turn our children insecure by telling them that they are bad kids due to their behavior. They trust us enough to believe us when we say such things so it is important to never link behavior with who they are. If that is what is being taught to them then they grow up with poor self esteem and blame everyone else around them for their own problems. Are you that kid? If so, there is a solution.

Action Steps 

Stop believing that you are a bad person and start looking at the many hats you wear objectively. Which ones do you wear well? Which ones need improvements?

For example, I am a husband so I try to be the best partner for my wife that I can be. I’m not perfect, but my heart and intentions are aligned with being a strong leader of my family and a loving husband and step-father. So I observe good husbands and do what they do. With business, I am constantly trying to improve my coaching with my clients through continuing education and consulting with mentors. As a student, I am very serious about keeping my mouth shut and ears open so that I can absorb as much information as possible.

All I can do is the best that I can do in all of these different elements of who I am but none of my individual behaviors can encompass all of who I am as a person. So the next time somebody wrongs you, try and actively think about what their positive intentions were and do not simply write them off as a bad person. They may be incompatible with you, but not necessarily bad.

Jay Skeeters 

How to Deal with [Difficult] People

How to Deal with [difficult] People. 

Do you find yourself in conflict with others often?  Whether it is someone close to you, someone you work with, or a complete stranger, they can get under your skin.  Do you blame them or do you blame yourself?  Well, what if you ended the blame game and started opening your eyes to a different culprit? The intended result! Below is a mindset formula from the Neuro-linguistics programming (NLP) presuppositions that is sure to change how you deal with people forever:

Every behavior has a positive intended result.

Every behavior has a positive intended result.

Every behavior has a positive intended result.

Read the first line out loud normally, read the second line out loud but a little slower, and read the third line out loud, even slower, and think about the words you are saying. Let that sink in for a bit before continuing the read

To avoid redundancy, I will refer to positive intended result as PIR.

Now, if you didn’t get that light bulb going off in your head, then you are either not getting it or you are skeptical.  So let me break it down for you.

What is PIR again? 

When somebody does something–anything– it is always because their intention is to have a positive outcome.  

Scenario 1: If you head out to work (behavior), your PIR is to arrive at the place that pays you money for your service.  That money is used for your livelihood.  Positive.

Okay, so that was an easy example of the formula. Let’s use the same example but we will change up the behavior (which changes the PIR). 

Scenario 2: You head out to work and while driving, someone cuts you off.  This enrages you and you flip them off while cursing at them in your car.  They see this and start gesturing that they too are angry because you didn’t let them in.  You engage in a back and forth gesturing match like a couple of driving baboons until it is time for them to turn off, allowing you to proceed to work.  

What’s the difference? 

The difference is that in scenario 1, your behavior was congruent with the PIR.  In scenario 2, your behavior changed the PIR when you perceived this other person as disrupting your commute to work. The new behavior had the PIR of releasing aggression. Once that PIR was attained, you changed your behavior back to getting to work. The problem with scenario 2 is that the behavior changed the original pursuit (getting to work to get that paycheck).  In this case, the original pursuit was just delayed, however there are times when this can get you into a lot of trouble pushing that original pursuit farther and farther away from you or extinguishing it altogether.

How can I use PIR to deal with others? 

When dealing with others, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of their behavior instead of seeing what their intention is.  

Have you ever watched a child who just learned to tie their shoes get angry and cry because they are struggling?  It’s easier to see the bigger picture because we understand what their objective is so we don’t get wrapped up in their tantrum.  

When a partner is displaying behavior that negatively impacts you, it is important to understand what the positive outcome is that they are pursuing and help them to continue their pursuit.  The behavior may be due to frustration because they may view you as an obstacle to their outcome.  It may be that they are looking at the outcome with a suboptimal point of view.  Our perspective controls the behavior we engage in when pursuing a positive outcome.  If the outcome takes longer than expected, has obstacles, or is no longer something we can pursue, we get cranky.

So what do you do?

First of all, you must understand that their negative behavior is not a reflection of who they are as a person. I will write more about this in my next blog.  For now, just hold onto that statement.  

Our behavior is NOT a reflection of who we are as a person. 

This makes it easier to understand that the behavior is simply a reaction to the positive pursuit.

In order to deal with others, you must separate the behavior that they engage in from the intended result.  If you can train yourself to do this, you will be amazed at how you will be able to see through the behavior and track the pathway to the intended result just as clearly and unemotionally as you see the the child struggling to tie their shoes. If you care about the person having the meltdown, you can support them by offering a different method or point of view to get the positive result that they are pursuing.  If you don’t care for the person having the negative behavior, you can choose to not be affected by their behavior and move on, unemotionally, pursuing your own positive outcome. 

In our daily lives we interact with all kinds of people.  It is important to learn how to deal with them in a way that doesn’t knock you off of your own pursuit.  It will give you the mental clarity to be able to help those you care for, and the armor to deflect the emotions of those who you do not care for.  Become a stronger version of yourself by running this formula.  It will be difficult at first because you already have a lot of repetitions dealing with people how you currently do. If you can replace the habit of getting overly emotional with this formula, many new doors will open up for you and your positive results.  It’s time to get smarter with how we deal with those around us.

Jay Skeeters