By Clare Harris, Content Director
At this time of the year, for those of us that celebrate Christmas and the New Year, it can be a time of reflection, planning and to be quite honest – stress!
With financial pressures of the holiday season, extended visits from relatives, excitable children with high expectations and quite often a drop of alcohol added to the mix, it’s no wonder we might be bracing ourselves for some added pressure.
At In Diverse Company, we have been looking not just at how to manage and recover from stress, but also how to get to know our stressors better so that we can anticipate them and know how best we can manage them before we reach a tipping point.
We use the VeryWellMind definition of stressors as: ‘a perceived threat to one’s well-being or position in life, especially if the challenge of dealing with it exceeds a person’s perceived available resources’.
Here the focus is on the idea of ‘perceived’ threat and ‘perceived’ available resources. What is perceived as a threat is different for different people depending on our experiences, current mental wellbeing and available resources. To some, a visit from a cantankerous relative might be the kiss of death to Christmas peace and harmony, to others it might be something to laugh off and be grateful it happens only once a year. Much about our stressors and reaction to stress is in our mindset and outlooks.
As Dr Richard Lazarus, PhD, Clinical Psychologist says ‘stress resides neither in the situation nor in the person, it depends on a transaction between the two’.
Therefore, we have more control over the things that cause us stress and our ability to anticipate and manage these than we might think.
Maybe we can choose to see the cantankerous relative as a gift to remember how good life is for the other 51 weeks of the year, and maybe we can look at ourselves and decide that this year we are going to remember that the visit is fleeting and it provides good stories for the post-Christmas debriefs!
In our programme ‘recognising your stressors’ we help share habits that can be practiced to support you to recognise the things that are causing you stress, recognise patterns and enable you to manage these in a way that is healthy and constructive for you.
In all seriousness, although the Christmas season can be hectic and full of demands, perhaps it’s also a time to take stock and think about some habits that could support you in 2020. In an ever-increasing world of busy interactions and increasing demands, the holiday period could be a time to start taking control of the things that create stress. The impact of improved mental rest and wellbeing could be the gift to yourself this Christmas.