Stress and the Body
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many adults feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and expectations, leading to increased levels of psychological stress and anxiety. Everyone reacts differently to stress. An event that is stressful for one person may not be for another. Even for an individual, a single event may be stressful at one time, but not at another, depending upon the circumstances and timing.
For some people, stress can have negative effects on the body. It can trigger a "fight or flight" response, causing an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. For patients with pre-existing heart disease, mental stress may cause a decreased flow of blood to the heart. Research also suggests stress may increase the risk of catching a cold, trigger headaches, and lead to a flare-up of symptoms in patients with underlying medical conditions.
Return to a Simpler Lifestyle
Much of the stress in our lives is fed by a need to "do it all" and "have it all." For example, many families are working long hours and rushing around to provide the best for their children. Ironically, the hectic pace and lifestyle leaves little quality family time. Some people are saying "enough" and trying to restore a simpler lifestyle. That doesn't mean going back to candles and coal-fired stoves. Instead, people are reassessing their priorities – taking stock of what's really important in their lives, and returning to a simpler lifestyle.
One of the first steps in simplifying your life is to examine your current lifestyle. Look at what you value most and strive to make that a top priority. Some people are so busy, they don't realize how much time they spend on an activity. If necessary, keep a journal of daily activities for a while to help you sort through and prioritize your needs.
Once you've determined which activities are most important to you, get yourself organized. Keep a single calendar with all important dates. Use different colored markers or pens to separate business and personal reminders, or use a different color for each member of the family. Be sure to leave some personal and family time in your schedule. At home, ask for help. Many household chores can be shared, such as sorting or folding laundry, setting the table, and washing, drying dishes. The work gets done and the family spends some time together. For outside activities and projects, make sure other volunteers are available to help before you offer to take charge.
On the other hand, don't be afraid to say "no" to projects you really don't want to do or may not have time to finish. When tasks seem overwhelming, try to break them down into smaller steps. Don't rush through projects. Rushing increases the risk of making a mistake – and then spending even more time correcting the problem. It's well worth spending a few extra minutes to get something done right the first time.
Next, take a look at your home. Many families have a lot of things they no longer need or use. Make it a goal to sell, give away, or toss one bag or box of useless items every week. Donate unused clothing to thrift stores or needy families. Be careful with new purchases so you don't continue to accumulate a lot of unneeded "stuff." If an item doesn't have any immediate use, don't buy it. Ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" or "What won't I be able to do if I forego the purchase?" Chances are you really can make do without the item.