Researchers tell us that the holidays can be the most stressful time of year for many of us. And for good reasons:
- Schedules become jammed with parties, commitments, and family gatherings.
- Holiday celebrations often put us elbow-to-elbow with people who measure high on our Stress Meters.
- We can become overwhelmed with extra cooking and shopping.
- We typically get less sleep and indulge in our favorite holiday goodies.
- The holidays can be a time of grief for those who’ve experienced the loss of loved ones or who are separated from family and friends.
Stress can cause our self-talk to become toxic, as we focus on the things we believe we’re missing out on or the things we wish weren’t being heaped on us.
So how can we control negative self-talk?
- Take positive steps to control your attitude. Believe it or not, no one owns a remote control to your attitude. You choose how you’ll respond to your circumstances. We can choose gratitude, serving others, focusing on the humanity of those who irritate us, and pre-thinking how we’ll respond if we become annoyed. We can choose to relinquish negativity. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal…it’s a byproduct of a life well-lived.”
- De-stress. Learn what method works best for you to chill out in stressful situations. Biofeedback is an excellent tool for some people. Others find meditation and prayer to be the most effective. Deep breathing also helps. Jennifer Maddox, therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker suggests the following method: Breathe in to a count of four, then hold your breath for a count of seven, and breathe out for a count of eight. Do this four times. This help re-set your central nervous system.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a popular approach taught by many therapists, but it’s as tried and true as the Bible. Listen to your self-talk and examine what’s really happening. Examine your motives and your goals. What are you telling yourself about yourself? The other person? Your circumstances? It is true? How can you adjust your expectations to move toward balance, truth, and a positive outcome?
- Replace the toxic with the life-giving: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right…”( Philippians 4:8 The Living Bible) Focus on what’s true.
- Become a student of your thought life: “Your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Proverbs 4:23) The Good News Bible) Ask God to show you strongholds of false thinking that have held you captive.
For deeper study on how to change life-long patterns of negative thinking, read The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God.