Avert a crisis this Christmas by dealing with holiday stress

Christmas shopping can prove stressful during the busy holiday season.
Christmas shopping can prove stressful during the busy holiday season. Renee Pilcher

ANGER management is management speak for keeping your cool in a crisis.

The bookshelves are laden with how-to books dealing with the topic.

My current bestselling business book, The Management Bible (you can check-it out in the store at, is one of those.

Christmas is another time when keeping your cool is often called for.

Research and anecdotal information shows that, for many people, Christmas can be a very stressful time.

Visitors, including family, who stick around for more than a few days seem to test our anger management skills.

Flight or fight have long been presented as possible stress reducers.

You could try locking yourself away (flight) from the hub bub. Or you could tell it how you see it (fight), but this might cause extra hassles.

There is, however, another much easier approach - a type of synthesis, if you like.

And, because it's stress-free, the approach will help to slow down the aging process.

It involves a three-step process. Here's what you can do.

Find a quiet spot, free from all the distractions - go for a walk, have a rest, or take a break of some kind.

When you're alone and relaxed, acknowledge and embrace your feeling of pain or anger.

You can do this by taking a deep breath and saying something like, "I know that you are there, anger, my old friend".

You then breathe out and say, "I am taking care of you, now".

Le voila! After approximately 10 minutes, you'll feel much better; liberated, even.

Anger is part of everyone's make up.

Some people deal with it better than others.

You become mindful of its presence.

By acknowledging its presence, you're well on the way to dealing with it. (It's no surprise that the initial change has come from you).

This three-step approach has many applications.

You can, for example, adapt this approach for use in traffic.

When others resort to road rage and other childish pursuits, you follow this stress-reducing approach that will ensure that you keep your cool and help to add years to your life.

Two thousand years ago, Seneca observed, "One is never so old that one does not hope to live another day".

But, seriously, no one wants to live for ever.

The mythical Tithonas and Gulliver's Struldbrugs showed that immortality doesn't have much going for it.

So, this very same approach can be used as follows.

Relax. Breathe in and say, "I know that it is my nature to grow old". Breathe out, say, "I know that no one can escape from old age".

Next time you're feeling angry and realise the importance of keeping your cool, give this approach a try.

This could be one of the best Christmas gifts you'll ever receive.

The key message here is that we don't try to repress our feeling of anger, or whatever the sufferings may be.

Instead, we confront it and deal with it. And everyone is much appreciative of your action - especially you.

The great Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh taught me about this approach.

Staying cool in a crisis has become easier and easier.

Dr Neil Flanagan is an active participant in the aging process. If you'd like a free copy of his e-book Stress, just go to and e-mail your acceptance and a copy will be back to you, pronto.


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Topics:  anger editors picks health holidays lifestyle mental health stress

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