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Three Key Strategies For Demonstrating High Emotional Intelligence During the Stress of the Holiday Season

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As much as we look forward to the holiday season with joy and anticipation it can also be fraught with intense emotions like anxiety, frustration, anger and disappointment just to name a few.

Many of us frenetically try to purchase those perfect gifts for our friends and families hoping we got it right this year. At the same time we worry about overspending leaving us with the sticker shock of the credit card bill at the end of the month.

We attend lunches and socials in a compressed period of time praying we don’t pack on the pounds by overindulging on sweets and rich foods.

We brace ourselves for another annual family dinner that will spiral into conflict with that in-law we try to avoid all year.

As grateful as we try to be for all that we have, especially during this time of year, these types of stressors can trigger us into behaving badly and perhaps feeling very regretful later as we try to repair relationship damage we may have contributed to.

None of these scenarios have to be that way if you believe you have the option to “change the dance”. By changing your response to a pattern of behaviour that doesn’t serve you it creates the opportunity for a new and improved relationship dynamic.

Below are a few ideas for how we can exercise high emotional intelligence during this very intense holiday period. These strategies may seem like common sense but it takes high self-awareness and good discipline to make them common practice.

Self-Reflection: First and foremost take a quiet time out to truly reflect on who and what matter to you most. Choose to surround yourself with people who are good for your soul. Nurture the few rather than trying to please and accommodate the many. Discuss with those who are most important to you what a wonderful holiday season would look like and make it happen together.

Self-Regulation- Check-in with your feelings and decide which social functions you are going to genuinely want to attend and then show up with joy and enthusiasm. Graciously decline the rest as most people will understand if you say you have other commitments. This will keep your sanity and waistline in check.

When shopping for gifts, agree on a dollar amount that is within your budget, make a list ahead of time and stick with it. This will help avoid those impulse buys you know you’ll regret later. Be honest with people about what you can afford and if they truly fall in your close circle group they will understand without judgement or criticism.

Manage Emotions-Recognize what triggers you and plan a response ahead of time for that negative in-law that gets a rise out of you every year. Remember when we are intensely triggered it says more about our own emotional state than the actions or the person we are reacting to.

If shopping at a busy mall hijacks your brain when someone scoops that parking spot you were just about to pull into, try these strategies:

  • Wave at them and smile
  • Shop during off-peak hours
  • Order online from the comfort of your own home

Simplify with all those extra names on your gift list and agree to “No Gifts” get-togethers and just enjoy each others’ company. They will be equally grateful!

In Conclusion

Practicing high emotional intelligence especially during times of stress allows us to maintain healthy and respectful boundaries with everyone we interact with, ensures we express our needs and wants in a respectful and gracious manner and avoid regrets and angry conflicts.

Through your own conscious and deliberate actions you can choose where you focus your time, money and energy. You can then truly look forward to and enjoy the spirit of the season with a lighter and more generous heart.

What strategies work for you during this very busy and intense holiday season?