By Gail Peterson
That time of year has crept up on us yet again! Each year we swear we will be ready, but somehow each year holiday stress finds us before we even have time to break the reindeer sweaters out of storage. The demands of work, family, and friends are enough to weigh anyone down, especially during the holiday season. Before we let ourselves get lost in another two-month blitz of “year-end” work duties and shopping mall madness, we can all take a step back. Here are a few simple holiday stress tips to keep our sanity in check and enjoy stress-free holidays.
1. Get to the core of the issue.
We tend to make blanket statements about work problems when a specific duty or assignment is the real cause of stress. In other words, saying, “My job is really stressing me out,” could actually mean an important budget deadline, sales quota or project is the major source of concern. Associating a broad issue as the cause of our stress can make it much harder for us to do anything to alleviate it. When we zero in on the specifics of the stress, it becomes much easier to tackle it.
2. Use reminders.
Once we have identified the core issues of our stress, a little reminder can be very helpful in keeping us focused. I have found that having a tangible reminder, a rock with a stress word identifier painted on it, allows me to focus on eliminating that particular stressor. The simple act of carrying that rock with me each day reminds me that I have identified my stressor and can work toward relieving it. During the holidays, I carry several of these rocks with me daily to keep me on task. At the end of the day I put them away, lifting the burden, literally and figuratively.
3. Make a plan.
After identifying the stressor in specific terms, and choosing a physical representation of that stressor to stay on task, we must make a plan to eliminate the stressor. During the holiday season, we get tough demands thrown at us from all angles, so a little planning can go a long way. What we are talking about is not just the shopping lists (which are endless), but also a cohesive plan to fix the core issues causing our stress.
4. Stay consistent.
Just like losing weight or saving money, it takes considerable effort day after day to eliminate stress. Once we have identified our stressor and made a plan to attack it we must be willing to put that rock (stressor) in our pocket every day and reinforce positive action towards eliminating it.
5. Remember to relax.
Another benefit of using a physical reminder of our stressors, such as the rocks I mentioned, is that it can also act as a cue to set that stress aside and relax during this busy time. When we empty the rocks out of our pocket, we can use that as a mental trigger to assess the efforts we have made to eliminate that stressor and to take a mental breather. That is the time to read, exercise, meditate, or do whatever activity or non-activity you need to take your mind off the stress. In all likelihood, we will pick up that same stress the next day at work, but as long as we remember to keep those holiday stresses in perspective then hopefully we will all find a little more time to truly enjoy this special time of year.