Thanksgiving - Christmas - New Years: Annual Triumvirate of Stress Producers
As the major holidays come rolling around, we can look forward to fun, family, and celebration. But let's not forget we can also expect added stress!
Here are a few common contributors:
- working long hours
- fighting traffic
- travel / vacation
- caring for aging parents
- cleaning dirty dishes / house
- paying the added bills / increasing credit card debt
- finding time to get everything done
- Staying on a diet
- Pressure of giving or getting gifts / struggle to afford and to purchase material goods
- family gatherings
- taking charge of holiday celebrations, preparing meals and decorating the home
- hype and commercialism of the season / advertising pressure us to buy more and more expensive gifts
- lacking time and money
- parenting your kids
- not able to relax
- feeling the duty to make the holidays the best ever for your family
- work responsibilities might interfere with time spent with the family
- worry about getting enough time off of work and
Are you feeling thankful yet LOL!
But seriously, how many of those are on your plate? The more challenges you’ve got, the more support you’ll need to thrive this holiday season. So how will you manage your elevated stress levels?
Here are some common strategies:
- watching TV
- eating and drinking
- religious activities / reconnect with faith
- do nothing
- play / listen to music
All of these can help and some are healthier than others but for even more value from your stress, how about a long term plan that is visionary, inspiring and validating of what matters most to you? Wouldn’t that be pretty awesome?
With the new year only 35 days away, how would you like to change, grow and develop to not only be a better stress manager but really thrive?
Here are some worthy goals:
- improve health
- lose weight
- get finances in order
- improve relationships with family or a significant other
- find a better / less stressful job
- pursue further education
- pursue recreational interests
- find more affordable / comfortable housing
All of those are great goals but can we squeeze even more value from our stress? What if we could align our plan with a whole hearted view of life to give greater meaning, inspiration, encouragement, and effectiveness to achieving those goals and more?
I think Christmas can provide us with some insight into this kind of perspective. The Incarnation.Through Jesus, God’s universal governing principles became flesh and blood (John 1:14) - a living, human being!
"The Word (logos)became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
And through Him, unconditional love, unfathomable peace, unstoppable hope, and unlimited joy was revealed and made accessible to everyone who would believe, receive and apply this incarnation to their lives. Through the omnipotence of vulnerability and empathy, the source of meaning, creativity and vitality has been manifested. And this power is available to all of us regardless of ethnicity, gender, social-economics, or whatever other label and category is out there. Incarnating the valuing of people, their healing and their positive development helps us maximize the redemption of stress. And not only stress but also other major negative, inner life experiences like shame, suffering, and pain.
What I’m getting at is embracing a central character of courage, compassion, and connection. That's what God did in Christ!
Why? Because those are the elements we desperately need to live, lead and love well.
What consistently hijacks our effectiveness, peace and well being? Interpersonal conflict. We suck at it. Being bad at this has ruined so many families and it’s why dysfunctional homes and organizations are not uncommon. The way we engage and resolve conflict, our management of negative emotions and the way we reconcile is a primary determiner of the quality of our relationships and culture and ultimately the character development of everyone in it. Do it well, and our homes and work spaces become places of emotional and social and even spiritual wellness. Do it poorly or not at all and end up with hypocrisy, dysfunction, false bonds, isolation, hostility or all the above. Without this core of 3 C’s, we will inevitably waste the stress and pain of life and actually end up doing all we can to avoid or hide it rather than redeem it.
Without 3 C's conflict resolutions, we develop strong tendencies of avoidance, people pleasing, idealization, control, and hiding. We get addicted to being right and become unapproachable. When we and others get stuck in unhealthy patterns, we lose sight of what matters most and if children are around, they will become handicapped with emotional and relational baggage stopping them from meaningful connection and achieving their full potential.
As the new year arrives, will you be redeeming holiday stress by growing a stronger core of courage, compassion, and connection? Moreover, will you be an agent of transformation in your home, your school and work with a presence of vulnerability, elevating trust building to new heights?
Take time to talk to those close to you to generate a vision and plan for growth and development. Then share it with a team of supporters to encourage you and hold you accountable for real change resulting in real outcomes! May 2016 find you redeeming the gift of time, especially the tough times. Blessings!