Don’t Mess With Stress!

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off just right.

For those who asked, my daughter went home from the hospital yesterday. There are issues that will require follow-up, but she dodged the bullet this time. Then, yesterday afternoon while chasing my grandson through the back yard, my wife tripped and her face and right shoulder took the full brunt of the fall. Two hospitals in two days. I seriously hope we’re done for the year.

This time of year, I don’t ask anybody what they’ve got planned for the weekend because I know. Most of us will be shopping. And it’ll be that way for the rest of the month. It’s a happy time, as we pick up gifts and imagine the look on the recipient’s face when they open it. Giving does bring joy.

But along with the joy of shopping comes the stress. Finding a parking spot, finding an empty shelf where you were hoping to pick up that special gift, and realizing the whole time that your budget has been ripped to shreds. Those little gifts for the neighbors, the stocking stuffers, extra eggnog for the party … all of those things add up and before it’s all over, you’ve spent a small fortune. It happens.

Stress takes away from our enjoyment of the holidays and, left unchecked, it can lead you into a deep depression. It wreaks havoc on your physical and emotional health. And, the thing we don’t really think about is that stress doesn’t care about your emotional state – it can happen when you’re excited or … well, stressed. Any big change from the ordinary, good or bad, is a source of stress.

Don’t believe me? Hang around a couple as their wedding day approaches. It’s probably the happiest day of their lives, and all the planning is geared toward making sure it’s absolutely perfect. The dress, the venue, the food, the flowers, the color choices, the guest list, the limousine, where to seat Uncle Fred so he isn’t too close to the bar. Is it any wonder newlyweds need to get away for a few days?

And, whether you’ll admit it or not, none of us handles stress very well. Nobody. I love it when somebody says, “I thrive on stress!” No, you don’t. You just take it out on everybody around you. You bury yourself in your work and forget that life exists outside of work. You imagine yourself the hero, but you’re really just wearing yourself down. And sooner or later, we all have to pay the piper.

Stress is like a rattlesnake, just waiting for the opportunity to strike. And when it does, the effects can be just about as devastating. But unlike a rattlesnake, stress doesn’t give you any warning that you’re about to have a really bad day. It just sneaks up until the opportunity is right, and leaves you wondering what happened.

As you go through the holidays, pay attention to the signs of stress. It’s easy to spot the bad kind. Impatience, a short fuse, exhaustion, and despair, are all signs of stress. Do you find yourself going through the entire day without eating? Stress. Are you driving just a little faster than normal? Stress. Are you working harder to get those projects done so you can take a little time off? Stress.

It’s impossible to avoid stress at any point through the year, but especially during the holidays. The key is recognizing it and doing something about it. Allow yourself a little extra time. Get up a little earlier and start the day a little slower. Drive in the slow lane and let the hotheads race around. Eat lunch with a friend. Turn off the news and turn on your favorite holiday show. Relax. Breathe.

Stress will always be there, to some extent. We can’t eliminate it completely, but we don’t have to add to it unnecessarily. No matter what you’re doing, find something to enjoy. Make time to do the things you like to do. Have a drink. Light a candle. Read a book. Share stories. Look through old photos. It won’t eliminate stress completely, but you’ll have a lot more strength for the next round.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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