Manage Your Holiday Stress into Positive Purpose
The way we celebrate the holidays causes stress, current events are stressful, and COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc on our communities’ mental and physical health.
How are you sleeping? Do you feel a sense of panic? Do you have racing thoughts? Are any bad memories replaying themselves?
If your answer to any of those questions was yes, your body is having a stress-response to the things that are causing fear or worry in you. While so many of our stressors may be out of our control, we can still be intentional about our exposure to controllable stressors and how we manage our responses to stress. According to the Good News Science Center, repeatedly consuming negative news stories is detrimental to your health. It keeps you in a constant state of alert (stress!), which is damaging to your body. It can lead to distrust and negative feelings about other people and communities.
We must counter the negative input, ask ourselves the questions that help us manage stress, and focus on finding meaning in the midst of difficulties. Reflect on and try out some of the following ways to mitigate stress, worry, and negativity this holiday season and beyond!
- Be intentional about reading good literature, listen to uplifting podcasts, and finding positive news. Check out websites like MSN Good News, and the good news network.
- Try some physical de-stressing strategies like deep breathing, physical exercise, yoga, and meditation--or dial into your own thoughts to dispel worry through mindfulness or journaling.
- Consider the power of gratitude. Make a list of what you are thankful for every day. Message people who have made a positive difference in your life. Share your gratitude with others.
- Do one small thing to help someone else feel better today. Researchers Laura Cousino Klein and Shelley Taylor suggest we tend-and-befriend, meaning we tend to the needs of others and be a friend to those in need. The tend-and-befriend response is a biological state engineered to reduce fear and increase hope. Helping others actually makes us feel better, too!.
- Consider how you can use your special skills or talents to make a difference in the world. Then take those big ideas and find ways to use your talents to positively impact your neighborhood and community. Offer your neighbor, your aunt, the cashier at the grocery store, a random stranger your help and encouragement.
These activities help your body regulate the stress hormones that have been released and help you feel more relaxed overall. Plus, you’ll be making your community a kinder, friendlier place. Your stress and fear will be channeled in a new direction, your personal strengths will be exposed, you’ll build friendships, and your newfound positive mindset will give you even more purpose to push beyond everyday stressors.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, Executive Director, EdD, LPCCS