Stress is NOT All in Your Head
I have very often written about the things we create in our minds that we can change by being self-aware and deliberately taking control of our thoughts. Well, not this time. Recent events in our world and the reminder that there are so many things in our lives that we can’t control creates a degree of stress that we sometimes don’t even realize. Signs of stress include interrupted sleep, overeating, smoking, excessive drinking, muscle aches, headaches and generally feeling anxious. It’s not your fault and it’s not your imagination. Stress lowers the immune system’s effectiveness and can create illness. The best way to avoid the flu is to stay healthy. Stress is real and a normal part of life but at this time of year it feels worse! The good news is that stress can be controlled and managed, thereby reducing your risk of becoming sick.
“The holidays” bring many extra burdens. The financial burdens of wanting to give gifts to everyone and not necessarily having the resources, the emotional burden of having to connect with those you may not want to connect with and the physical burden of celebrating for a month with over indulging in everything! All this joy comes with stress. For those who are less fortunate, it is a reminder of being less fortunate. Being disconnected from loves ones can be even more stressful.
In light of all this stress there are several ways to reduce it, or to not allow yourself to become overwhelmed by it. The first and most important thing to do is to take inventory of all the things that are positive in your life. By focusing on the positive things, you will feel less stress. Thoughts create feelings, so positive thoughts create positive feelings! It seems so simple but many of us see the glass half empty and forget the things that make our lives good! Second, think of little things you can do to help someone who is less fortunate than you are. Giving is truly uplifting and it doesn’t have to be expensive or big. Giving your time to someone who is alone or disconnected is a special way to give. Next, be mindful of your health and do not take it for granted. Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep are the easiest ways to stay healthy. It is easier to stay healthy than to get healthy. Celebrating doesn’t have to mean being out of control. Mindfulness can keep a balance while you enjoy the holidays. Eat slowly and never go to a party hungry! And, last but not least, avoid the media and the frenzy they want to create to get you to spend money and feel pressured. Avoiding the media includes avoiding politics and all the poison it spreads. Take a break from the craziness of politics and bad news during the holiday season. It will still be there in January!
There are things you cannot control but you can control the way you allow these things to affect you. Use the only control you have, which is the control you have over yourself!
I wish you all a happy, peaceful and loving holiday season!