jeudi 22 décembre 2016

Stress management makes Holidays more enjoyable

Meditating Man

Remembering, reflecting and celebrating are often stated as integral parts of any holidays. But are they, and do they really dictate our preparation for and celebration of the holidays?

It seems that, given the rapid pace at which we live, for many the holidays have become as stressful as they are pleasant. There is much we can do to better manage our personal, work and religious obligations. In fact, we can all make the holiday period more pleasant by trying to understand what stress is, what its consequences are, and by learning how to manage it more effectively.

Stress is often considered as the most common problem of everyday life. Most experts agree that an inability to respond to our life demands often results in a stress response. Although stress is considered a normal reaction and most of us experience stress at one point or another, when the stress response becomes chronic and exaggerated, it can lead to negative physical, psychological and social consequences. Indeed, stress has been identified as causing somatic problems (i.e., nausea, tension headache, migraine, muscular discomfort, general pain, cardiovascular disease) and psychological distress (i.e., worry, tension, anxiety, depression, burn-out, psychosomatic illnesses, low self-esteem, impaired interpersonal relations).

While stress can adversely impact our physical and mental health, it is important to emphasize that we each react differently to our life stressors. The meaning individuals give to a particular encounter is important in determining whether a situation is experienced as stressful. This means that different individuals are likely to perceive different situations as stressful, and deal with those situations in a variety of ways. In other words, the meaning we attribute to the holiday period or the way we perceive it should influence how we cope with it and whether or not we experience it as stressful.

Considering that the main objectives of the holidays (remembering, reflecting and celebrating) are fairly modest, is it possible that many of us are just trying to do too much in preparation for the holiday period? Isn't a gathering amongst family and friends in order to remember, reflect and celebrate sufficient?

How large of a gathering or celebration one holds will ultimately influence one's ability to prepare for it and, in turn, whether a stress response will be experienced or not. As such, we should each question ourselves as to how much time and energy we are willing to invest, if any, in the holiday preparation, taking into consideration, of course, our other weekly obligations and activities.

Other coping strategies include planning ahead, prioritizing (i.e., distinguishing between the things that are essential for the celebrations and those that aren't), asking for support or help from our family and friends (i.e., both in preparing for the holiday and in cleaning up after the holiday), and taking time, on a regular basis, to "energize" oneself (i.e., through relaxation strategies, physical activities or hobbies).

If despite using some of these tips, you are still experiencing a lot of stress, you may want to consider consulting a mental health professional for further and more personalized solutions,

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Yaniv M. Benzimra, Ph.D.
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

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