I recently walked into a store that had signs on door saying Push Pull – on the inside and outside of the same door. The instructions are confusing as they present two opposite commands at the same time, now you have to decide which command is better. Ever feel like you’re being pulled in opposite directions at the same time, now that is stressful.
This time of year can accentuate feelings of being pulled in opposite directions and not having enough time to get everything accomplished, increasing stress. We take great pleasure in finding the right gift for that someone special even though that creates stress.
Today’s life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it is a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. You can protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.
Beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
In today’s spiraling downward world economy many people will not be able to enjoy Christmas as they have or would like to, which can be harmful stress to your body. How you react and manage yourself in that situation will make all the difference in the world to your health.
A study performed by the American Psychological Association indicated that Americans, particularly women, are more likely to experience increased stress during the holidays . The same study also indicated that people are more likely to engage in comfort eating or sedentary activities like watching TV to manage their stress. I would suggest simply pushing away from the table, desk, or TV and go out for a walk. You’d be surprised when a little fresh air and exercise will do you.
You have something to give that won’t cost a lot, won’t create a lot of harmful stress and which can put a smile on your and someone else’s face. Whether you see their smile or receive a thank you or not, you’ll notice your stress has been reduced and you’ll experience joy – which is not the same as happiness. The prescription is simple: give of yourself and do something nice for someone else while not expecting anything in return. As you do something nice for someone else while not expecting anything in return you will not feel like you are being pulled in opposite directions, rather that you have come along side the person you are helping…
Many years ago a large family faced a prospect of no Christmas dinner and no presents for any of the children. A few days before Christmas three grocery bags were discovered on the porch by the front door. The bags contained a turkey and plenty of food for a grateful Christmas meal as well as several full books of S&H Green Stamps which provided the gifts. The greater gift given that Christmas to the anonymous giver and the grateful family is joy. The ones who received that grateful gift of joy are still paying it forward. For a brief moment in time the anonymous giver and the grateful family came along side each other, stress relived, and burdens were lifted.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours.
Reverend Paul N Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and Founder of the Family Renewal Center (AZ) http://www.NarrowPathMinistries.org and http://www.FamilyRenewalCenterAZ.org
1] Berktold, Jennifer. Greenberg, Anna. “Holiday Stress”. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf on December 2, 2013.
Clipart by Dennis Cox: http://clipartof.com/5943