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Clearing the Static from the Attic: Managing the Stressors in Your Life Over the Holidays

By Tom Kidd, Balanced Wellness Services

If it’s truly the best time of the year, why does so much stress seem to accompany the holiday season? Gifts, family, dinners, traveling, etc. all begin to pile up. We’re stressed. And stress begets stress begets stress. So much for the holly and jolly.

First and most importantly, know that YOU are the one most responsible for the stress in your life. Stress is really about your perception and your attitude towards people and events that naturally appear and occur around you. The key to managing stress lies within your mind and heart. I have always liked this quote written by an anonymous writer: “It doesn’t matter if your glass is half full or half empty; it’s that it is refillable.”

If you want to enjoy the season (and your life!) it is necessary to have a pre-thought-out plan. Identify the factors that increase your chances of stress exhaustion–many of which seem amplified during the holiday season:

  1. Negative perception – the worry-wart syndrome

  2. Family pressures

  3. Work problems

  4. Negative coping strategies

  5. Responsibility without gratitude

  6. Lack of coping skills

  7. Broken compass–no purpose or plan to live

  8. Personal tragedy

  9. Helper mentality

Stress caused from these factors can present itself in the form of headaches, rashes, insomnia, irritability, sore muscles, fatigue, lack of motivation, chest pains, and heavy or labored breathing.The more of these signs you may have, the more stressed you are. So, what can you effectively do to manage those stressors in your life?

MANAGING YOUR STRESS:

  1. Determine if you are unwell in one or more of the eight dimensions of wellness: social, physical, emotional/mental, career, intellectual, environmental, spiritual, and financial

  2. Balance your life personally, professionally, and with your family

  3. Identify your stressors before they cause you stress

  4. Identify and tune into your triggers

  5. Practicing effective coping strategies including stress management and relaxation techniques

  6. Practicing mindfulness techniques as well as mental imagery

Take some time to identify those people and events that bother/stress you. Make a list and then think about healthier ways you could handle those stressors.

Coping strategies for MENTAL STRESSORS:

  1. Set realistic goals for your day

  2. Learn to intentionally plan your day with balance

  3. Talk about your feelings with others

  4. Don’t be afraid to cry–endorphins are released!

  5. Take a deep breath and simply count to ten as you exhale

  6. Practice positive chatter and self-talk

  7. Exchange worry times with wishful/prayerful times

  8. Become your own priority and intentionally plan to take care of yourself EVERY day

  9. Refuse to let work dominate your life

  10. Let go of your anger in healthy and positive ways

  11. Distinguish between needs and wants

  12. Keep an appreciation/gratitude journal

  13. Write down your thoughts and feelings and throw them away

  14. Learn to put things into perspective

  15. Laugh often and at yourself

  16. Get your 12 touches needed daily

  17. Learn to take mini vacations through mental imagery

  18. Practice mindfulness techniques

  19. Seek professional help when you seem to have no control–by the way, this is a very healthy behavior

Coping strategies for your PHYSICAL STRESSORS:

  1. Sleep well. Figure out your best habits for a sound night’s sleep so that sleep deprivation isn’t one of your stressors.

  2. Eat well. Eating unbalanced meals can cause physical stress on many of your body’s organs.

  3. Try to intentionally speak calmly when you are angry.

  4. When extremely busy, intentionally plan a relaxing date night out.

  5. Identify your physical triggers when stressed, so you can begin effective actions as they arise and prevent a pile up of stress.

  6. Regularly schedule self-care.

  7. Begin to include intentional 10-15 minutes of daily reflection time into your daily schedule.

  8. Exercise more when you are physically stressed. Do things that are joyful and fun for you.

  9. Once you feel stress in your neck, back arms, legs, shoulders, etc., focus on that muscle set and very slowly relax the set.

Don’t let stress consume your spirit during the holidays. Perceive it differently and prepare for your physical and mental stressors with a PLAN! Maybe then you can have a very merry Christmas!

#holidaystressmanagement #holidaystresstips #Seasonalstress

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