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There's an old saying in Chinese medicine: “A good doctor doesn't need to use needles.” In other words, if we can see the big picture and make the required adjustments, everything else balances.

The holidays are a very stressful time. And many people struggle to manage their anxiety levels on a regular basis, even without this added strain. So, I've compiled a list of suggestions to help, without needles, this holiday season, playing off Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, with Holidays Past, Present and Future:

1. Take A Time Out

One of the consequences of stress is that the prefrontal cortex of the brain kicks into problem-solving mode and evaluative and predictive processing. Basically, the brain asks, “How am I doing?” If the answer is, “Not well,” the brain will look to the past to see what went wrong. It will then predict future outcomes on that basis. The internal monologue might go something like: “If I'm not doing well now, I will likely not be doing well in the future.” The consequence is more stress. So, this holiday season, if you find yourself hanging out in Holidays Past or Holidays Future, that’s a red flag that you are caught in the stress response loop. My suggestion here is to unplug, take a moment. Come back to yourself.

2. Maintain Your Own Reality

If you find yourself around others living in Holidays Past or Holidays Future, focus on maintaining your reality or perception. Try to stay the subject of your reality and not an actor in another's reality. Emotions are contagious. Maintaining yourself is like staying aboard a boat while everyone else is falling overboard. It makes little sense to jump in and drown with everyone else. Not that there isn’t a communal bonding experience in treading water, but it sure is exhausting.

3. Stay In The Present

Focus on Holiday Present. What needs to be done now? What is the reality of this year? What is the reality of this moment? You may very well be the only one present, but so what? You’re amazing and you’re strong and, dammit, you’re on the boat. In being present, be generous with respecting others’ freewill. Not everyone wants to be present, not everyone wants to be on a boat. Focus this year not on the communal spirit of everyone being the same, but the communal spirit of everyone being free to create and live the holiday season they choose.

4. Take A Step Back

Finally, this holiday season, give and take space. Too close is too close. When going to the art museum, you don't walk two-inches from the canvases. You step back, take in the whole piece; move in to see detail, then move back to gain perspective again. To appreciate others, we need perspective. Some pieces require a bit more consideration. Take your space too; others maybe too close to appreciate you, as well.

I hope this helps and happy holidays!

If you need it, please reach out to the healthcare providers for support and get a tune-up. Being in great health can help you navigate the holidays too.

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