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Rethinking Stress

11/24/2018 11:53 AM | Glen Alex (Administrator)

     We all know that there's an extra burden during the major holidays. Attending parties, shopping for gifts, spending extra money, social pressure to 'get in the spirit', and getting along with family and friends are among the triggers of stress. Not to mention the toll reduced sleep and overindulgence in food & drink takes.

   There are many sources of advice which recommend avoiding stress to eliminate its effects. That approach does have some good logic. After all, the less stress experienced is less stress experienced. Although avoidance is well-intended, it's not probable. And what some mean by 'avoid' is actually ignoring problems or biting the tongue to keep the peace. 
   Those tactics don't eliminate stress effects and may in fact create more of them.  You see, stress is a normal part of daily life-the alarm, traffic, bills, relations, etc. And the holiday season adds to daily pressures. So pretending stress isn't there drains energy, creates barriers, and dampens the spirit.

   Strain and tension are inherent in the inundation of holiday activities, so let me suggest accepting stress instead of avoiding it. Acceptance doesn't mean resignation-to give up and give in to problems and anxiety. No. It means to understand that stress is coming and take control of self with preparation, strategy, and action.

As much as I prefer to not wake up early for work, I do because it's necessary to maintain health and home. The sun will rise, the alarm will sound, and I'll get up. Likewise, stress will come even if unwanted.  Mental preparation helps. Establishing a productive mindset eliminates a large portion of the tussle in advance. Physical, mental and emotional exertion are par for the holiday course. Set your mind with that fact because knowing breeds control. Accept and move forward with clarity and confidence.

Make a plan of action for dealing with the appearance of stress.  Maybe you don't know when it's coming; however, you do know that it will visit during this time. To paraphrase Paul Revere, " stress is coming, stress is coming" .  So shield yourself with a plan to alleviate holiday overwhelm and space the constant tugs on your time and energy. Have a plan. There are a variety of  tactics to employ from different sources.  Below are my priorities.

You may think, "I don't have time for a massage." The truth is that you do. We all make time for what is important to us.  And in this case, destressing must be a priority to maintain some equilibrium and sanity.  So plan ahead; book a massage right before and right after your busiest period this season. If only 30 minutes, the reprieve will work wonders with your energy and spirit.

No, shopping doesn't count.  Though it burns calories, it's not the focused, high intensity, purposeful activity that produces the physical & mental relaxation of working out, tennis, or yoga. The activity must be separate from holiday stressors. So walk, workout, meditate, play your sport as usual and focus on it as much as you can.  Physical activity is " a great way to release anxious energy and pent up feelings (sensations) in the body." Living In Total Health

Cousin Gail judges everything.  Brother Joe gets mean after too many. Uncle Avery usurps control of the turkey. And they're coming to dinner.  Instead of your usual eye roll and anger, develop a different response. Preparation tells you that this is coming. So in understanding that you can't control another person, use your prepared mindset to remain calm in face of the storm. This time, you truly get that they will do what they do so you don't fuel their behaviors with your negative reactions. Rather, you focus on what you can control-you. So as you go about your business in spite of them and without judgement, your stress response is diminished.

4. ACT
Ideas are great. Plans are better. Only action reveals purpose and intent. It's not enough to think or say you want something. Doing is what matters. You want  to relax? Do relaxing things. You want to communicate better? Say what you mean and ask for what you want.  You want joy during the holidays.  Take action to minimize stress-prepare, plan, do. As Nike says, "Just do it!"  

Avoidance of stress is not likely. Pretense can add to strain. Thus rethinking stress can produce calm amid chaos and provide more control over what we experience through the busy-ness and demands of the holidays. Know that stress is part of the season and cope by preparing, strategizing, and acting. Then enjoy!

Read more about Stress Management in Living In Total Health, available on Amazon and

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