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:
Negative perception – the worry-wart syndrome
Negative coping strategies
Responsibility without gratitude
Lack of coping skills
Broken compass–no purpose or plan to live
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:
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
Balance your life personally, professionally, and with your family
Identify your stressors before they cause you stress
Identify and tune into your triggers
Practicing effective coping strategies including stress management and relaxation techniques
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:
Set realistic goals for your day
Learn to intentionally plan your day with balance
Talk about your feelings with others
Don’t be afraid to cry–endorphins are released!
Take a deep breath and simply count to ten as you exhale
Practice positive chatter and self-talk
Exchange worry times with wishful/prayerful times
Become your own priority and intentionally plan to take care of yourself EVERY day
Refuse to let work dominate your life
Let go of your anger in healthy and positive ways
Distinguish between needs and wants
Keep an appreciation/gratitude journal
Write down your thoughts and feelings and throw them away
Learn to put things into perspective
Laugh often and at yourself
Get your 12 touches needed daily
Learn to take mini vacations through mental imagery
Practice mindfulness techniques
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:
Sleep well. Figure out your best habits for a sound night’s sleep so that sleep deprivation isn’t one of your stressors.
Eat well. Eating unbalanced meals can cause physical stress on many of your body’s organs.
Try to intentionally speak calmly when you are angry.
When extremely busy, intentionally plan a relaxing date night out.
Identify your physical triggers when stressed, so you can begin effective actions as they arise and prevent a pile up of stress.
Regularly schedule self-care.
Begin to include intentional 10-15 minutes of daily reflection time into your daily schedule.
Exercise more when you are physically stressed. Do things that are joyful and fun for you.
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!