Have you been feeling the stress mounting as we draw closer to the holidays?


Some reframing – or rather PREframing may be in order.

A friend of mine shared recently about her immediate family’s drive to an event with extended family that no one in the car was looking forward to. After a few minutes of discussing which conversations and relatives they were dreading, she realized they were all feeling less and less prepared and resilient to make it through. In effect, they were shortening their own fuses.

They decided to stop complaining. Instead, they took turns naming three things they were grateful about for each extended member of the family that would be in attendance. By the time they got out of the car at the event, their mood had completely shifted.

Whether my friend knew it or not, they had used pre-framing to alleviate their dread and anxiety, and you can use it this holiday season, too.

Pre-framing is persuading yourself and others to adopt an attitude or “frame” that prepares you to see things in a positive way and be receptive to the events that follow. It is what’s behind a lot of the “gratitude practices” that mental health experts suggest.

For example, if you aren’t able to host the giant Thanksgiving dinner you’re used to having, write down a list of positives that result. No set up or clean up. Less food cost. No need to rearrange furniture to fit extra tables. Prep yourself to see the day as relaxing rather than lacking.

We know it is not going to be the same as in years past, but let’s consider what could it be. You are behind the camera, creating your experiences.

Remember, you’re the photographer of your story. You choose the lens. You determine the framing.

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