Tis the season to be …..stressed? We are entering that time of year where schedules are busier, expectations are higher and deadlines are looming. Suddenly, we notice that our patience is running thin, energy is low, our digestive system is off and sleep has become that long lost friend. Our stress is at an all time high.
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. As leaders, we need to remember that people are watching our actions far more than they are listening to our words. If our actions are an indication that we are running at full throttle and slowly breaking down; this is exactly what those around us are going to mimic. So what happens when your entire workforce is sick and broken down? Exactly!
So with all we have going on during this holiday, how do we add the jolly back into the season and encourage those around us? Here are my top 10 de-stressors:
- Exercise – yep, you knew I was going to say that! I know, you don’t have time. Trust me, you don’t have the option to NOT have time. Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your positive endorphins and distract you from daily worries.
- Say No, Prioritize –Remember, you don’t have to do it all. Prioritize what must be done and then only accept invitations that bring you joy. Need a dish? Grab something from the bakery if the idea of cooking stresses you out! Keep in mind that saying yes is still saying no to something else. So make sure your yeses count and use that all powerful word: NO!
- Sleep – Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommend seven to eight hours for healthy adults. A good night’s sleep makes you able to tackle the stress more easily. When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated which can increase stress.
- Appreciate What You Have – Many of us live in a perpetual state of wanting more and we spend our time chasing those material possessions, but once we have them how long do they make us happy? A day, a week, a month? Then we move on to the next coveted item. If you’re like most, either your house is filled to capacity with junk you don’t use or you’re making weekly trips to the thrift store to discard those once prized items. Learn to become grateful with all that you currently have, give more, and spend time with someone who doesn’t have what you have!
- Delegate – Lots of things need to be done during the holidays but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all! Hosting a party? It’s ok to ask people to bring their favorite dish. Delegate chores to other members of your household or break down and hire a housekeeper. Get the kids involved with cooking and gift wrapping! Remember, there are plenty of people who are willing to take responsibility and help out. While they might not do it the way you would want it doesn’t mean that their way isn’t just as good or better.
- Disconnect – Set aside time to disconnect from the frantic 24-hour, always on call demands of modern technology. Turn off your smart phone, tablet and laptop. Click off the TV and shelve your iPad. To successfully sever the tech umbilical cord, you may have to put your favorite electronic devices in another room where you won’t be tempted to check for missed messages. Focus on the natural world around you. Go for a long walk, watch a sunset or play a game with your children. Let the world flow around you and wash away your cares.
- Quite Time – Get up a few minutes early in the morning or retreat a few minutes early before bed and spend some time alone. Find a place where there are no distractions and you can be silent. Read motivational or spiritual passages, close your eyes and clear your mind. Pray or breathe or stretch. Just be.
- Breathe – Breathing exercises can help you reduce tension and relieve stress due to an extra boost of oxygen. What’s more, breathing exercises have been proven in clinical research to aid some of the systems that are harmed by stress!
- Laugh – According to Mayo Clinic, a good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body like stimulating organs, activating and relieving your stress response and soothing tension. So watch a funny movie, go to see a great comedian, watch some of the hilarious short clips on YouTube, or spend some time with great friends who always make you laugh.
- Support System – Part of life is experiencing it’s ups and downs and the holidays are no exception. We need people in our life who understand us and can be depended upon during tough times. Research has proven that having a support system has many positive benefits such as higher levels of well-being, better coping skills and a longer, healthier life. Studies have also shown that social support systems reduce depression and anxiety. So make a list of those people in your life that add value and reach out to them this holiday season.