The Holiday Myth: Coping With Holiday Stress

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Holiday Myth Holiday Stress

Oh, the holidays.

For some, family gatherings, holiday parties, gift buying, and memories of holidays past create a sense of excitement and enjoyment. For others, this time of year presents a mixture of unsettling emotions, depression, and dread.

“I just wish my husband wouldn’t accept EVERY invitation to his coworkers’ parties. I’m so burnt out on pretending to care about these events.”
“My mother is so miserable to be around ever since she and my brother stopped speaking.”
“My sister still hasn’t gotten her drinking under control. I am NOT looking forward to our Christmas dinner. It always ends in disaster, tears, and someone storming out the door.”
“I’ll never be able to recreate the joy I experienced as a child. The whole season just makes me depressed about what used to be…”

Holiday Myth Holiday Stress
The holiday season isn’t always full of the love and the light that one might think should accompany it. In a 2002 study titled, “What Makes for a Merry Christmas?,” researchers Tim Kasser and Kennon M. Sheldon found that “most people are relatively satisfied with their holiday and experience… However, a substantial number of [people] reported significant stress during the holiday season.” Meaning, even if we look forward to the holiday season, no doubt we feel pressure of some kind. I was recently contacted with some information from Dr. Dain Heer, international speaker and author of Being You, Changing the World on coping with holiday stress. Dr. Heer ascertains that, while numbers indicate most people are stressed during the holidays, many people “feel isolated in their discontent.” When the world seems as though all is joyful, but you just can’t get on board, Dr. Heer suggests the following:

Don’t buy into other people’s drama:

“How much do you allow other people’s lives to get intertwined in yours?” Heer asks. According to Heer, 98% of your thoughts, feelings and emotions are not your own; you are picking them up from the people around you. Ask yourself “Who does this belong to?” to help you determine the thoughts and feelings that are actually your own.

Let others be unhappy if they choose:

Heer maintains that happiness is a choice, so you do not need to take responsibility for others’ unhappiness. “If others are unhappy, it’s not your job to change it”, Heer explains. “It’s your job to be happy; to show them that there are other choices available, if and when they want a different choice”.

It’s ok to be different:

There is a lot of pressure at holiday time to get along with family members and other individuals, but Heer believes that, instead of conforming to appease people, it is better to acknowledge and celebrate what is different about you. “What if your difference is the greatness about you; is what can make valuable change in the world?” Heer suggests. To embrace your difference, ask yourself, “What is different about me that is wonderful about me?”

Dr. Heer believes that the Holiday Spirit is a myth; the first step to finding true happiness at Christmas is to stop pretending you’re happy if you’re not.

BeingYou_DainHeer_Cover copy 2ABOUT DR. DAIN HEER
Dr. Dain Heer is an internationally-acclaimed speaker and human behaviour thought leader. Heer travels the world, coaching audiences and facilitating classes that teach people to access their own awareness and knowing, empowering them to become their own advocate. He is also the author of nine books on the topics of embodiment, healing, money and relationships. His story and teachings are captured in his latest book, Being You, Changing the World, which has been translated into Swedish, German, Spanish, Italian and Estonian. Learn More at

Xmas tree photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc


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5 Responses to The Holiday Myth: Coping With Holiday Stress

  1. Laura Rogers Broach December 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Great post! I love the idea that we can’t feel responsible for the happiness of others, but rather should model it.

  2. Chrystal @ Happy Mothering December 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! Holidays definitely aren’t what they were for me. It used to be a big family thing. Now it’s a small celebration with my little family. But I try to appreciate every moment of what I do have now.

  3. Brittany Thomas December 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Great tips. It’s amazing how easy it is to get caught up in other’s drama or unhappiness this time of year so it’s a good reminder to not fall into that trap.

  4. Joanthan (EcoDad) December 4, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Good things to keep in mind. Most of my stress around the holidays comes from trying to make them special for my kids. I have to remember that it isn’t the presents, it is the time together that is special & important.

  5. Amanda December 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Great tips. My stress is around people. Oh the people acting crazy. I tend to just avoid people I don’t want to see around the holidays and it has helped a lot. I also have had to accept that we can’t spend a lot of money on Christmas at this point in our lives, and that is ok. What really matters to us is family. Everything else is optional.

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