I went to a talk at my son’s high school last week on the topic of dealing with stress. It was directed at teens – final exams, college essays, social life, too many activities – but so much of it made sense for me that I had to share. Knowing you are a little busy right now I’ve boiled it down :3 easy steps to lower your stress during the holidays.
The experts say that the holidays are stressful for just about everybody, in one way or another. The speaker, Dr. Scott Cypers – an anxiety expert from Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center, describes it like water backing up behind a dam. Those molecules of water could include everything from organizing a big family dinner, getting presents purchased and cards mailed to financial pressures and facing a lonely Christmas. The things we worry about keep piling up. Also contributing to the stress is that we are heading into the season of short days (of course excluding our awesome Australian and southern hemi customers) and colder temps for many of us; so we hunker inside, don’t see the sun and get less exercise.
Step 1. Believe it, know it’s coming, plan ahead.Think about how to access the release valves and let some water out of the dam -– as Dr. Cypers would say. List your water and see whether any of it can get moved earlier, later or into some side tanks. Delegate - Maybe some of it doesn’t need to be in your dam at all.
Relaxation techniques and coping strategies like breathing, exercise, and Netflix (me –guilty!) are critically important and necessary for us, but they actually do not access the water in the dam. Our prevailing culture teaches us to Tune Out (headphones in, head down – have you done it?) which only delays, rather than reducing, our stress.
Step 2. Tune In and Act. . What is stressing you out. Make your list. Then check in and categorize each item as - “fixable” (I can make a plan and address this), “unfixable – or not now” (this might affect me but I cannot fix it in the short term) or “overreaction” (I am worrying about this but maybe it is not as bad as it seems). So now you are down to a smaller set of Then go for it. Take on your “fixables” with an action plan, accountability to yourself, and help from others where you could use it. Walking forward with even the teensiest baby steps will start to lower the water level.
Make one change:
We know it’s coming, we’re planning ahead, we’ve got a plan – but if you are like me, you still are a little over the edge on “I can do it all and do it all for all the family and all friends, and all the bosses, all the employees, and all the organizations”. So – promise yourself now that you will make one change for yourself:
And then spend the holidays doing what we all say we'll do – Enjoy friends and family!
Wishing you and yours health and happiness!