The holiday season can bring about unexpected stress. Shopping for gifts on a budget and trying to meet all the obligations for this time of year with family and friends can cause us to feel overwhelmed. This is an addition to coping with our daily stresses of attending doctors’ appointments and meeting work deadlines.
It is imperative to remember that stress over time can significantly harm the body and ultimately kill you. The effects of long-term stress on human beings are well documented. The following areas are vital to mention:
- High Blood Pressure
- Cardiovascular diseases (heart attack and stroke)
- Impairment to the immune system leads to a higher risk of disease susceptibility, including cancer.
- Brain damage from neuron destruction is due to the release of cortisol into the bloodstream, which travels to numerous body parts, including the brain.
- These factors are not an attempt to scare you but give a dose of reality to the situation. Consistent exposure to stress does not do a body good. Fortunately, there are some options we can do to lower our levels.
One step is to practice acceptance in our lives and put things into context. For those living in the western world, no matter how bad we think things are, it’s not nearly as bad as in earlier times.
The threat level our ancestors dealt with pales in comparison to present-day situations. For instance, none of us has to go hunt for our food or seriously consider the possibility of being eaten by a tiger (unless we live next to a zoo). We have to deal with crime and other issues, but constant dangers to our physical survival are lower than in ancient times.
The next step is to develop self-awareness around our wants. A crucial reason why our stress levels rise comes from our expectations. We think we have to get every gift our family and friends desire. Our minds have us believe we need to meet every obligation to everyone besides us. Instead of going down a shame spiral, question yourself before you make a move.
Do I have to meet every obligation in life to feel complete?
A final consideration is to remember that nothing lasts forever. This Christmas season will pass just like it did last year. If you are reading this post, then you survived. Think about everything you worried about in the past, and then recall that most of those things pass with time. You’ve already survived what you most fear, and knowing that difficult moments are impermanent should bring some relief on a mental and physical level.
No one has a perfect life, no matter how great their Instagram photos look. All of us will face difficulty or turmoil. One way to reduce the uncertainty in our lives is to realize our ability to persevere. To remind ourselves that we can handle what the world will throw at us because we have done it before. Understanding that truth can help us calm the storm inside when life gets overwhelming.
All seasons eventually pass into the next, so nothing, positive or negative, lasts forever. Taking that reality seriously means we can stay on an even keel no matter what life gives us. None of us will leave this life unscathed, but that does not mean we need to add to the suffering. Getting into the practice of doing the three steps stated in this article can help us lower our stress levels over time, thus not adding to the pain we will already experience. Life is short; no need to make it shorter.
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!