Holiday Stress Management
December 20, 2017
We live in a fast-paced world with infinite access to social media, news sources, and magazine articles that hope to influence how we manage our lives. But how helpful is external advice for stress management? Do we take this advice or does it just add to our stress, especially as we navigate the emotionally fraught holiday season?
Advice from others is helpful, but no one knows what we need better than we do. For example, in my attempt to manage my stress, I attended multiple yoga classes. After trying hot yoga, beginner’s yoga, and yoga in the park, I realized these activities, which were supposed to ease my stress, caused me additional anxiety. The bottom line was that I did not enjoy it, and when I forced myself to do it anyway, I felt more stress, not less. It took away precious time from exploring things that helped me relax. In the end, yoga was not for me. And guess what? That’s okay. What was not okay was trying to make something work for me that obviously did not.
What stops us from being able to properly stress manage is valuing other people and activities above ourselves. The pressure we feel during the holidays comes from multiple sources: our desire to provide our families with the ultimate holiday memory, our need to keep up with our neighbors, and constant media reminders of what the perfect holiday should look like. Maybe we need to put a reminder on our calendar each day to take care of ourselves. This does not mean we stop caring about the wellbeing of others and doing those things for others that brings us joy. But it is about balance. A balance that a lot of us do not devote enough energy to maintaining, myself included.
As we venture into the holiday season, choose to manage your stress. Keep what makes you happy and pare down activities that do not mean very much. Remind yourself that devoting your full focus to others can only last so long.
Stress management is very individual, making it even harder for us to figure out. We can take advice from friends, family, and professionals, but first, we must know ourselves. Always maintain your sense of self and what works for you when listening to the advice of others. If a relaxation technique is causing you stress that means it is time to devote your energy elsewhere.