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Managing the Stress of the Holidays

Stress is unavoidable. 

It might surprise you to learn that pressure can be healthy.  With the right amount of stress, then you will thrive.  It will help you solve problems, prioritize, develop new brain connections, and also learn new things.  I love the stress of trying new things, figuring out solutions to problems and finding ways to improve.  I hate feeling overwhelmed, unsure of how to get out of a difficult situation, and the sense of being helpless.  In fact, I do everything in my power to avoid experiencing negative stress.

Learning to Thrive

The holiday season can quickly escalate from fun activities to crushing obligations.  There are places to go, people to see, presents to buy and wrap, bills to pay, food to cook, laundry to do, dishes to wash. In the middle of the chaos, you still need to make time to stay connected to your man, who is in prison. Yikes!  That is a LOT for one person to manage.  But you can do it!

Navigating the Holidays

The first thing task is to decide what to accomplish on which days.  If only life would cooperate, you could get it all done on time.  I can guarantee you that life will NOT operate on your schedule. Now what?  Something is going to go wrong and disrupt your carefully plotted out plan.  You, or someone in your family, will get sick.  Someone will cancel at the last minute.  You will have to work mandatory overtime, or worse yet, you will get laid-off.  Disruption will happen.  When it does, are you resilient enough to adapt?

The secret to managing stress is planning for things to go wrong. 

If you have not developed resiliency and self-control, you will be swallowed up by the struggles of life.  Throughout the years of serving families, I have seen people lose their composure and even have temper tantrums when their life is interrupted.  The interruption causes them to get entirely off track.  Not only do their goals fall away, but their peace is squashed.  As time goes on, bitterness and resentment build up, and joy is nowhere to be found.  Life is going to get crazy. You can depend on it being unreliable.  Prepare for the unexpected, and you can expect to manage stress.

"I had a decision to make. I had to choose between my agenda and my loved ones."

I have had some considerable interruptions to our schedules over the past few weeks.  I had a lot of shopping, baking, and gift making planned.  However, the urgent needs of our friends and family demanded my time and attention.  I had a decision to make.  In particular, I had to choose between my agenda and my loved ones. I knew my friends and family needed my time, so it was a natural choice to be there for them.  But I had also had to decide my attitude.

Stress is an opportunity? 

If I view this change to my schedule as others hijacking my time – I would be upset and miserable over changing my plans.  Instead, I saw this change as an opportunity to take the scenic route.  I chose the scenic route. It was not stressful to adjust my life so I could help the people I care about.  It was a joyful investment in our journey together.

As you face challenges during this season, choose to be present in the lives of the people you love.  See the disruptions that are coming as gifts to see life from a different perspective.  All in all, be flexible as you consider each challenge that comes your way.  Look up from your own agenda to see the bigger picture and decide what is the most critical action for you to take. Then act! As you recognize that nothing will go as you plan, you consequently will be prepared to meet the barriers that will be in your path. Being mentally prepared for change will reduce negative stress and help you celebrate the holidays with your family.

I am rooting for you!