By Twyler Jenkins
Before writing this article, I Googled the word “Stress” to read the various definitions, and these are a couple I came across:
“Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree.” — World Health Organization, Feb. 21, 2023
“Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.” — University of Florida Health, April 30, 2022
Reading these definitions triggered something in me; the fact that we all experience stress to some degree. This lets us know that we are not alone when dealing with stress. It is a part of life, but how stress impacts our mental, emotional and physical well-being depends on how we learn how to deal with it. Stress is heightened when we face difficult situations and circumstances.
And certainly, the holiday season can be difficult for many of us.
Mental and Emotional Stress
Stress during the holidays can be from grief and grief can occur in more ways than just the loss of a friend or loved one.
Losing a job, a contract, a relationship and any other type of loss can all cause grief. Grief and stress can go hand in hand and if you don’t know how to manage either or both emotions, life can become overwhelming and depressing.
But with every problem there is a solution!
First and foremost, do not seclude yourself during this season.
Feeling like you are the only one experiencing your situation is stressful. Do not be tricked into believing you are alone and no one else will understand your situation or circumstance.
You are not alone and having someone to talk to will alleviate some of the mental and emotional stress you’re experiencing.
When you don’t talk it out with someone. it can stay bottled up inside and your mind can take control, which could result in you thinking about all the negative aspects of the circumstance.
This is producing stress!
Find a friend or loved one you can confide in and share your thoughts and feelings.
Professional help is also optimal to help mitigate stress. While seeking assistance for mental health concerns has been stigmatized in our community. There is no shame in seeking therapy or counseling.
I am a true believer in prayer and meditation, and a daily practice of both will also help alleviate stress. But I also believe in the assistance of therapy and counseling to help us learn how to process and eliminate stress.
Do not allow societal pressures of spending money during the holidays to create financial stress.
Do what you can with what you have. Do not overextend yourself and create stress that can result in stress-related health challenges.
Focus on the real purpose and meaning of this season which is gratitude. Be grateful for the small things and teach others the same.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create memories. Sometimes old practices are the best practices. Writing a personal note to someone, stopping by with a cup of coffee for a visit, or just spending “time” and not “money” with that person means more than anything else.
Be careful not to wear yourself out during this holiday season.
Do not stress about trying to make everything perfect. Running from here to there trying to make every party, visit , family member, friend, and foe happy!
Take time during this holiday season for some self-care. We can take “people-pleasing” to another level that creates stress, anxiety and worry.
If you don’t put up all the decorations, if you don’t make it to every party, if you don’t host like you used to, don’t stress about it!
The most important thing is your health and happiness.
Are you doing more for others than you are doing for yourself? Is this causing you to stress out?
That’s when you know you are doing too much. Take some time for regular breaks from all the holiday planning, ripping and running. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and perhaps take time for a warm bath or something that brings you joy! The stress you put on your body can be debilitating.
Remember, you matter most!
You hear the saying, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but do we really believe it?
Your actions of being a spiritual being of love, happiness and joy should reflect how you feel about this time of year.
Try being grateful for the memories of your friend or loved one who may no longer be with you. Count it a blessing that you no longer must go to that job you really didn’t like anyway. That client would have worked you more than what they paid you. As far as exes are concerned, that relationship may have been over long before it ended.
Those are all positive thoughts on situations that, at first, seemed so negative.
Allow your attitude of gratitude to lift your spirits!
You are too blessed to be stressed. It may not always seem like it, but we really are! Look at the sun behind the clouds and take a few deep breaths. Know that this season is only a season!
There is more in ’24!