4 Practices to Maintain Peace and Composure During the Holidays

Value clarification is an important part of that process

Does your stress increase or decrease during the holidays?

You are about to enter one of the best opportunities in life to practice balance within your personal and professional life as this season gets underway. Are you ready? For many, joy and peace are replaced with stress and tension. Along with behavior that shrinks and distorts the best version of you.   

Why do you think the Hallmark channel was ranked the most viewed channel last weekend? Perhaps because we are all craving simplicity, meaningful relationships and a happy ending. My husband recently brought me a shirt that says: “My Hallmark Christmas movie watching shirt.” I’m hooked.

There is a tsunami of drama in the world today. That’s one clue to a solution for less stress: Unplug and make room for behavior that pushes your refresh button.

We see crises all around and cast ourselves smack in the middle of it all. Get off the stage this season and re-engage with your choice points (what you choose to give your time and energy to) that brings more calm into your life. 

Let's face it, taking offense or being offended spins the body into the stress response. 

When cortisol (stress hormone) is ripping through our system, we are left mucking around like a fish swimming through jello with only three choice points at our disposal: Fight, flight or freeze. 


The behaviors that crash a good holiday party usually include ugly talk, defensive actions, stone walling or one-upping.  

Let's for a moment shine a light on what's really going on.

An offense is an annoyance or insult brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself, standards or principles. 

Key words to explore in the above definition: "perceived insult."

Remember the definition of stress?

The power (or permission) we give to outside circumstance (including the words and actions of others) to define our worth, value and/or capability. Believe it or not you actually have the ability to be offended or not to be offended.

According to research put out by Poggi and D'Errico on the effects of feeling offended, published by "Frontiers in Psychology" (U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health), the feeling of being offended or taking offense falls under self-conscious emotions like guilt, pride and shame: 

  • "In social psychology research, the feeling of offense has been viewed so far as typically triggered by a blow to a person’s honor, hence to his/her public “face”; yet this painful emotion, beside nicking the reputation and self-concept of the offended person, is often felt also in interpersonal relationships, that it finally may seriously disrupt."

To be offended or not to be offended … ah, that is the question. What you choose to engage in can result in peace and calm or stress. The choice is yours and makes all the difference in your performance as well as meaningful relationships at work and at home.

Clarity of focus leads to accuracy of response. When you consider what you value most in life, your ability to make decisions for less drama and more meaning quickens.

In Sherpa Executive Coaching, we implement a process of gathering information that directly influences your behavior. Value clarification is an important part of that process.


Because the information you take in from the world around you is filtered through your values, which directly impacts the choice points that drive your behavior.

One of the longest human behavior studies conducted by Harvard revealed close relationships, more than fame and money are the main fuel for lasting happiness. Of course, meaningful relationships are the main fuel for our happiness, and by the way a huge factor in employee job satisfaction, as well – perhaps another reason why the Hallmark channel is ranking No. 1 around this time of year.

I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer back in 2006 and the doctor's focus was to give me five more years of life. After 16 chemotherapy treatments, 14 surgeries, six weeks of daily radiation and an additional year of experimental treatments, I am gratefully still wearing my “earth suit.” My children were 8, 10 and 12 years old at the time and I am confident the meaningful relationships in my life played a huge role in my recovery and focused intention on healing and restoration.

The one question I continued to contemplate throughout the years of treatment was not, was: “How well did I show up to love and support the people that have been entrusted to my care?” If you show up today and showcase the character you want people to remember you by at the sunset of your life, peace and joy, along with contentment will guide your way tomorrow.

It’s not surprising that one of the keystone character traits of effective leadership in the world is impulse control. 

Get off the stage and explore these four practices to get your holiday peace on:

Next observe how your behavior aligns or not with your top 3 values for 1-2 weeks. Identify and adjust those behaviors and choice points to better align with what you value most and what you want people to remember you by: Deathbed Wisdom.

2. IDENTIFY THE RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR LIFE that you would like to up the ante around creating meaningful connection during this holiday season and do it.

Much of your anxiety and stress is fueled by casting yourself in the drama around you. Get off the stage, refuse to participate and identify specific ways in which you can be that one high tide that lifts all ships (J.F.K) by showing up with positive behavior.

Body language, including facial expressions and intonation, can throw a wet blanket on a relationship or refresh it. Smiling and laughter are universal languages that reduces stress and boosts endorphins … even if it’s fake. Act your way into feeling.

 Run it through the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why). Realize that taking offense can only enter your interior perspectives with a consent form signed by you. To take offense is a choice point (where you choose to put your time and attention). Explore a lighter version of you and remember that you have filters in place that create a limited view of reality.

Open up and ask questions to learn more or practice the pause. Hold silence until you calm your body down enough so your spirit can shine and bless those in your presence.  Offense evokes offense. Love evokes love. Patience evokes patience.

The choice is yours and makes all the difference in the outcomes you will experience this holiday season.

Lauren E Miller Lauren E Miller, has a Masters in Adult Education with a Certification in Human Resource Development. She has personally conquered two of life's top stressors at the same time, advanced cancer and divorce. Now Google's #1 Stress Relief Expert, Award Winning Author, Speaker and Certified Executive and Life Coach, Lauren provides process driven programs with structure, guidance, support and accountability designed to create positive change in behavior resulting in positive impact on business (IOB) and life purpose.  Explore More at:http://LaurenEMiller.com
Categories: Human Resources