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The 10 Stresses of Christmas: Beating Negative Thinking During the Holidays


December 18, 2013 | Published by

Black Friday shoppers by Flickr user Gene Han

The holiday season can bring a lot of joy and happiness, but it’s also a time when expectations or consequences can bring negative thoughts and high stress. Financial worries, canceled flights, sick loved ones, and pressure to have a perfect holiday are just a few things that increase stress during the holidays. I’ve outlined 10 different types of negative thinking, with ways to avoid each. Below are 1-5.

1. All-or-Nothing

Ted’s 6 year-old son has been asking non-stop about a hot new Christmas toy. When Ted goes to buy the toy, he discovers it’s sold out in all the stores. He searches frantically online with no success. Ted now thinks Christmas is ruined and his son will never forgive him.

This type of thinking is characterized by absolute terms like always, never, and forever. However, very few situations are this severe. When you feel the need to use these words, first think about the situation. Will Christmas truly be ruined? Will a toy cause eternal disappointment from your child? Here’s how Ted can reframe this thinking: A toy is a toy, and I can do other non-material things to ensure my son has a happy, memorable Christmas.

2. Overgeneralizing

Christy is typically a homebody, and she’s received several invites to holiday parties from friends and family. Christy typically hates crowds and thinks about how awful and crowded each of these parties could be. She refuses to go to any of the parties based on this generalization.

When one overgeneralizes, one takes one instance and applies it to every possible related incident. I had an awful time at one party, therefore all parties will be awful. When you catch yourself overgeneralizing, remind yourself that each situation and individual is different. There will be good parties and not-so-good parties, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from spending quality time with friends and loved ones. Keep in mind you’re in control, so if you go and are not having a good time, you can leave. What if you miss the time of your life?

3. Mental Filtering

Alex is at the grocery store getting items for a family meal. He checks out and goes to leave. As he’s leaving, someone stops him at the door and hands Alex his wallet, which he left at the register. As Alex is pulling out of his parking spot, a speeding car almost hits him. Enraged, he thinks the holidays are full of jerks and little else.

Mental filtering is another way of saying your glass is empty. This type of thinker often places greater emphasis on negative events over positive ones. The truth is, how we feel after any instance is much within our own control. Learn to look for the silver lining. A much less stressful response for Alex would have been to assess that no one was hurt, nothing got damaged, and there are obviously good people around (remember the wallet?).

4. Disqualifying the Positive

Jennifer spent a lot of time decorating the office for the holiday party. As people start filling in, they compliment Jennifer on a job well done.  No one has an unkind word to say, but all Jennifer can focus on is a decoration that’s starting to come undone from the wall. Great–this looks horrible and they’re just trying to be nice to me, Jennifer thinks.

Those of us with depressive natures can find it difficult to own and appreciate a compliment. Often, we feel like we simply don’t deserve the praise. The best way to avoid this type of thinking is to learn to love the kindness.  The next time someone offers you kind words, simply say “thank you” and smile. It may not come naturally, but the more you do this, the easier it will become.

5. Jumping to Conclusions

Brent’s friend Phillip has planned to meet him at church to help put care packages together. It’s now 20 minutes past when Phillip said he’d be there, and he hasn’t called or texted. What a flake, Brent thinks. If he didn’t want to help why’d he sign up?

This kind of thinking is another example of us being human and playing into our insecurities. Brent doesn’t know why Phillip hasn’t arrived yet, but he’s assumed the worst and is already disappointed before knowing the reason why. The best way to beat this type of thinking is to practice giving the benefit of the doubt. What if Phillip had to tend to an emergency? What if he’s on his way and is being responsible by not messing with his phone while driving?

Continue to part 2

Image Credit: Holiday shoppers by Flickr user Gene Han

dr eric bakkerAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website:  You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos:  Dr. Bakker’s Blog:

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