It's time for another Wench Classic–a post from our past that deserves to be trotted out for its timely message. With the holidays upon us, it's prime time for stress. Here's a blast from the past (2006, to be exact) from Mary Jo, with some good advice on dealing with stress. ~Sherrie
There’s lots of warm fuzzy sentiment in the air just now, most of it generated by the multiple holidays at this season. (Happy Winter Solstice to everyone!) There’s lots of gatherings with family and friends, often presents and parties, and waaaaaaay too much unhealthy but delicious food and drink on offer.
It’s a good season—but for many of us, stress levels are off the scale. I had my hair done today, and my lovely and efficient hair stylist was dealing with the considerable demands of being a business owner, wife, mother, grandmother, serious church volunteer, providing refreshments for clients and providing meals for her staff. She was two clients behind when she finished me, and it was still morning. Part of this was because a long time client had to be squeezed in because of a death in the family. My stylist will survive and even enjoy the holidays, but relaxed? Not hardly!
And there are worse stresses, like the client who had just lost her nephew. Like the writer friend who posted that her family has just found out that her son-in- law’s return from Iraq has been moved further away—and his unit will redeploy there after six months back in the States.
Even with less dramatic circumstances, holidays can be a letdown that don’t live up to our hopes and expectations. Our nearest and dearest can get on our nerves, and family relationships that are already tense can go into meltdown. Not to mention the traditional arguments about whose family to visit, and the conflicts in mixed religion households.
So I’m here to offer, if not a cure, at least a palliative. <G> Jo recently mentioned a study she’d read about that showed that even pessimistic people started feeling happier if they did exercises that required them to write down positive things in their lives, events and people they were grateful for, times when they felt good about themselves. Consciously appreciating and thinking positive even raised their happiness scale six months down the road.
A simple form of this exercise is to relax and think of three good things that happened to you today. Maybe you can do it when you go to bed, rather than thinking of all the stuff that needs to be done tomorrow. Only three good things.
Here are some examples.
1) Two days ago, I got around to hanging my bird feeder, and all of a sudden I have beautiful birds munching a foot and a half from my dining room window. This morning I glanced out the next window, and there in the midst of lush rhododendron greenery was a brilliant red cardinal, less than five feet away from me and looking like a Christmas card as he waited patiently for his turn.
Actually, maybe he wasn’t patient, maybe he was plotting a hostile takeover of the birdfeeder and a terrorization of finches, but he sure looked pretty! Often we get too busy to appreciate nature, but even a single image like this can leave me smiling. Look for nature, and enjoy it.
2) Another good thing: while on the way to my hairdresser, I tuned to a radio show where a woman called in on a rather scratchy cell phone to say that she was a teacher taking her students into Gettysburg to see Charlotte’s Web, and could the DJ play something the kids could sing to? His voice warm, he said, “Of course!” Within seconds, the first notes of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were sounding through my car. The thought of a whole busload of little kids happily singing along put another smile on my face.
3) After I left the hair salon, looking as spiffy as I’m capable of <g>, I had a holiday lunch with a friend. Most of the restaurants around were jam packed with people doing the same, and offices having holiday parties, so we ended up in a new little Italian restaurant I’d never seen before. Good food, good company, a good time.
I could go on—lots more than three good things happened today. (Along with a few not so good, but we won’t go there. <g>) But thinking of the good stuff makes me feel lighter and happier.
So that’s your assignment for the holiday. Think of three good things every day. Maybe more. And perhaps that will lift your mood, relieve some stress, and make the holidays—and regular days—easier and more enjoyable.
And yes, you can count a perfect piece of chocolate as A Very Good Thing!