Meet Holiday Stress with Balance and Equipoise

Despite what you’ve heard in the press, and maybe even on your shrink’s couch, holiday stress does not have to be ubiquitous. Though everything from the proper staging of the Elf on the Shelf to the office holiday party to appropriate gift-giving to obligatory travel, can make us feel as if we are all under pressure, we can take some control over how we react to it.

As parents, spouses, merchants, entrepreneurs, teachers, musicians, desk jockeys, and restaurateurs, we feel pressure during the holidays to conduct ourselves (or at least appear to conduct ourselves) with our best behavior even as time constraints and obligations make this behavior somewhat elusive. But you can find it! And even more importantly you can find the foundation underneath that good behavior.

Everyone from Oprah to the Mayo clinic will tell you to stick to your routines. Keep your exercise regime going, get enough sleep, eat properly, stay hydrated, etc. All great advice that sometimes seems impossible. When it does, it is important to take some time (even a few minutes) for yourself. You need three things: pleasure, silence, and beauty.

Pleasure is an essential key to health and happiness. Even Prevention Magazine tells us that “The more we meet our own needs, the easier it is for us to help others without resentment or anger, and the healthier we become.” (http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/get-more-pleasure-your-life) Research shows that “Feelings of pleasure and well being proved to be highly predictive of future good health.” (Read this amazing study here.) It is the season to be jolly after all.

Silence is golden. Whether in mediation, prayer or just plain quiet, spending a few moments in silence and solitude allows the soul (mind, brain, whatever) to reset. Think about the last time your were asked to observe a moment of silence – this practice engenders respect and reflection – both important aspects of balance and self-care. But even if you do not go for the more spiritual aspects of the power of silence, your ears deserve a break from the clanging bells of the Salvation Army volunteers, the blare of traffic, and the all-pervasive holiday music.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Keep your eyes peeled and you are bound to see it almost everywhere. And we are not just talking about the physical beauty of that guy or girl (though he or she may be wonderful), or that beautiful window display, or even that beautiful meal. We are talking about the beauty of the human spirit. This is the time of year you can really see it shine, if you look with the right eyes.