Hello everyone! I know we’re all working to wrap up the year on a high note while weaving in our holiday preparations. I urge you to take a moment and read this blog from Dr. ck Andrade, a guest blogger you’ve heard from on Chief’s Corner before. Dr. Andrade is a volunteer Scouter in Pacific Skyline Council/Discovery District and a member of the BSA Emotional Fitness Task Force. She teaches youth and adults in Scouting and the community how to control their stress levels. Today, she gives us all some helpful guidance on managing stress during the holidays.
The holidays are here!
For many of us, Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the holiday season – a period filled with family, friends, fun, worship, shopping, gifts, food, festivities, travel, get togethers, and, sometimes, stress. In reality, the holidays, while fun, can also be quite demanding.
Even noted psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe recognized this when they added Christmas to their well-known list of 43 most stressful life events. It’s little wonder that sometimes we find ourselves thinking “Tis the season to be jolly, so how come I’m not?” Now, before you say “Bah humbug” and start resenting the holiday cheer of the people around you, try some of these strategies for sailing through the holidays with less stress and more smiles.
A Recipe for a Low-Stress Holiday Season
- Plan ahead: Take a moment to identify which situations are likely to make your blood pressure rise. Decide what you can do before, during, or after the event to bring your stress level down a notch.
- Check in with yourself: Learn to recognize how your body, thoughts, and behavior change in response to stress-provoking situations. For example, do you have tense muscles, headaches, racing thoughts, or a loss of appetite? Do a quick scan and look for your signs of stress as you go through the day.
- Slow down: trying to maintain a hectic schedule is likely to exhaust you and make you tense. Resist the temptation to race through the holidays by slowing your pace and making time for rest breaks.
- Get organized: Focus on what is essential and use your time more effectively. Take a few minutes each night to make a To Do list for the next day. Select the one to three things that are most important to complete by the end of the day and concentrate on those.
- Give yourself some alone time: Set aside 20 minutes of quiet time alone each day to gather your thoughts. This can help you to stay calm even when there is holiday chaos around you.
- Look beyond your own life to help others: The holiday season is about more than giving and receiving gifts. Find a way to bring some holiday cheer to someone who is in need.
Start Afresh for the New Year
You can bring that low-stress approach into the New Year in a few simple steps.
- Clear your workspace: A tidy workspace energizes you and makes it easier to concentrate, while clutter can increase your sense of being under stress.
- Surround yourself with people whom you consider to be supportive.
- Find a focus: If you know where you are headed, then you can concentrate on getting there and spend your energy on productive activities. First set a long term goal for the upcoming year and then set smaller goals that you can work on each day to get to that big goal.
- Get the Ball Rolling: Take action and build your sense of success by completing one daily goal every day. When you achieve a goal, check it off your list and reward yourself for this accomplishment. You’ll soon find that your motivation increases and your stress level decreases.
Need Other Stress Busters?
Want some more suggestions for easy stress busters that you can use to relax during the holidays and prepare for the New Year? Here are tips for youth in “99 Ways to Chillax and Bounce Back”©and for adults in “60 Stress Busters for Scouters.©”
Enjoy your holidays!
Dr. ck Andrade
Thank you, Dr. Andrade! We appreciate your great counsel on how we can keep stress to a minimum and make the most of our holiday season. I recommend that everyone read her suggested “Stress Busters” and share them with others.
Happy – and stress-free – Holidays!