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As I sit here realizing that I have completely forgotten about my son’s event at school tonight, and that I have forgotten a list of gifts I need to have ready for our annual Christmas Eve party… the below comes accross my e-mail a gift reminder:

From The Brighton Leadership Group:

“Amygdala Hijack!

Beware…during the holiday season there is an opportunity for you to get hijacked. Stressful family situations, last minute work projects and holiday shopping provide ample opportunities for a hijack.

The ‘amygdala hijack’ is a term coined in Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence. The amygdala is the emotional part of the brain, which regulates the fight or flight response.

When threatened, the amygdala can respond irrationally. A rush of stress hormones floods the body before the prefrontal cortex (the brain’s executive function where rational thought and judgment sit) can manage the reaction.

Some tips for dealing with a hijack:
• Pay attention to your reactions and mange your triggers. Does your heart start pounding or your body gets tense? Recognize how you physically react to threatening situations. Then pay attention to the situations and what triggers the response.

• Reframe the situation – force yourself to focus on the facts and be specific about what happened. Then examine the facts from a different point of view. For example, rather than getting angry at the person who cut you off in traffic reframe it as someone late to pick up a loved one at the airport.

• Be silly – find something to laugh about. When your amygdala is hijacked the impact can last for hours. Laughter diffuses the electro-chemicals released by the amygdala and helps manage the hijack.
One additional suggestion as you face a potential hijack is to breathe. Practice taking in a deep breath, holding it and then slowly exhaling. This forces a pause and calms the fight or flight response.”

Now some tips from a mother who is tired of staying up late nights to get ready for the big holiday rush….

  • Enlist a baby-sitter or local teen to do your wrapping, put sticky notes on each gift with the name of the recipient so that they can be labeled accordingly.  Have your helper add a description of the gift on the sticky and place it on the wrapped gift when completed – this way you know what’s there. 
  • If you haven’t created a holiday card yet… send one after the holidays wishing eveyone a Happy New Year.  I personally enjoy getting these when the January lull sets in.
  • Missing gifts still? Splurge on the expedited shipping and wrapping – get on line, have it done for you; delivered and ready to go under the tree.
  • Parties to go to?  Easy hostess gifts are at every grocery store, or even better, at Williams Sonoma – grab Milk Cookie Mix or one of your favore sauces, stash with some bows – you can decide if you use it for yourself or give it as a gift, either way it’s not a waste.  Forget the flowers or wine – flowers have to be bought at the last minute (when you don’t have a minute) and unless you know the host’s wine taste, it might just go to waste.
  • Prepare for next holiday season while you are on vacation for this one. In my basement among the decorations, I was surprised to find presents already in mailing boxes with addresses on them for friends and family far away.  I forgot I had already done this when I promised myself I would not do things last minute again. 

What do you do to prepare yourself for the Holiday  ‘amygdala hijack’?  I know I could use more tips!

Happy Holidays!