I know we’re all supposed to love the holidays, and I understand it’s a season of joy and giving, but sometimes, some things, and some people seem to piss me off more during this time than any other time in the year. Anyone with me?

In this article, I am not going to talk about managing your stress. Instead, I want to touch upon your anger (and mine). And then I want to help us all to get through this season with less of it.

First, let’s talk about some triggers. Whether it’s too many obligations, or yet another store playing “Jingle Bells” ad nauseam, or those shoppers ahead of you at the checkstand who are talking on their phones, certain things trigger our anger at this time of year.  (I just told you three of mine.)  What resonates with you this time of the year?

  1.  The Straining Budget can trigger your anger.  This time of the year, money seems to fly out the window, and it can make us mad.  If it’s not too late, I’d suggest you come up with a budget, and stick to it.
  2. Family is always a good anger trigger.  Whether your family’s traditions no longer seem relevant, or your Uncle Jack’s politics piss you off even though you know better than to engage, sometimes a good choice is to simply avoid unnecessary arguments.
  3. Too much can be a trigger.  Too many parties, too much alcohol, too much food, too much traffic, all fall into this category.  A little bit of planning and discipline can help here.  It’s okay to skip a party or two, and when you do attend, decide in advance about how much you’re going to eat and drink.  Try to avoid peak time when shopping.  I’m told Wal-Mart can be fun late at night.  (Anyone swear by this?)
  4. Misplaced expectations might piss you off.  Lowering (or adjusting) them is always a good idea. I’ve written about managing expectations in the past.  Feel free to click here for a refresher.
  5. Recognize your anger before it’s too late.  When you feel your pot of anger starting to boil, take a walk, do some push-ups, or jump rope.  In other words, exercise is a great way to avoid detonating the ticking time bomb of your emotions.

Is any of this helpful?

I expect that some anger during this holiday season is pretty much unavoidable.  The crowds and the traffic will undoubtedly be there, as will the other annoyances.  But if you can do some preparation in advance by thinking about how to manage it all, you might very well surprise yourself and have a pleasant holiday season.  That’s exactly what I intend to do, and I wish the same for all of you.