Stressed for the HolidaysAhhh . . . Christmas – what a wonderful time of year. Or maybe for you it’s Hanukkah, or just simply the “holiday” season. Whichever it is that you celebrate, you will find this season filled with peace, love, and goodwill toward others, right? I wish!

If you are like me, we have hope for this feeling of peace and goodwill. . . even strive for it. But then we find ourselves fighting the traffic on the streets, the crowds at the mall, and the rude clerk at the grocery store and wonder where is the “spirit” of the Holidays. Reality has set in. Another year of rushing, packing too much into one day, figuring out where we will get the money to buy more presents, which will just be returned after the big day. Ahhh . . . stress . . .

Stress is everywhere, particularly during the Holidays. I can typically handle a small amount of stress. However, it is frustrating for me when the stress level gets high enough that it begins to effect my mood, which in turn begins to influence my health and energy level. Too many days pass by with feelings of being over-stressed or depressed.

Exhaustion comes, the immune system weakens, the health goes, and grumpiness sets in (so goes the season of ‘cheer’). At the time I began this article, I truly was not much into the Holiday spirit. Feeling totally overwhelmed by all the “have to’s” – I could barely think straight, let alone feel like hearing a Christmas Carol, or doing something nice for someone. Forget it.

As I thought about this, one afternoon, the thought crossed my mind, “Why is it I always do this to myself; commit to more than I can handle, give in to a poor mental attitude brought on by stress?”

I recently read an article about how our mental attitude affects our physical health. This article was written by Hans R. Larsen, MS., called “The Therapy of Thought”. In this, he talks about how our thought processes, which create electromagnetic energy, can affect our body chemistry.

He explains how chemical reactions and balances of the body are controlled by both internal and external electromagnetic energy fields. Hans Larsen comments on how biofeedback, which is now accepted medical therapy, has proven the power of thought. To quote the author, he says, “Thoughts can make us depressed, anxious, or full of zest for life, and the awesome healing powers of prayer and affirmations are now well recognized.”

Why is it I always do this to myself; commit to more than I can handle, give in to a poor mental attitude brought on by stress?

If our thoughts can make us the person we are, in regards to our physical, mental and spiritual health, we would be wise to spend as much time as possible instilling positive thoughts into our brain. This will then increase our positive flow of energy, and assist in improving our lives and health.

Sometimes our thought processes need extra help in changing. Our bodies’ electromagnetic fields need help achieving the proper flow of energy. This is the goal of vibrational (or energy) medicines. These alternative health practices seek to correct and work with the body’s electromagnetic energy fields, and to change any imbalances. Many times I have experienced improved mental attitude from just one session of “therapeutic touch”. By opening up the body’s energy flow, I have repeatedly been better able to deal with life’s stresses.

As I contemplate what to do about lessening stress and improving my attitude, I have to actively think of something which would elevate my mood. So I could enjoy this wonderful time of year, I have created my own list – not Santa’s list, but “Sanity” List – in order to help increase my positive thoughts, and lower Holiday stress levels. The following is my Top Ten List of Ways to Remain Sane, and save my health, through the holiday season.

“Sanity List”

1. Practice repeatedly saying the word “no”, when necessary, or the more polite version “no, thank you”.

2. Make a list (and check it twice . . .) of all the have-to’s that need to be done. Lists help me feel more in control of my life and less overwhelmed (until I misplace it – that really makes me crazy). I also feel a lot better when I cross off tasks when each is completed. Then, I can visually see progress.

3. For an immediate quick fix to a “stressed or depressed mood” – uplifting music. When I am in the darkest of moods, Christmas music won’t hack it. I need desperate measures, which means “big band swing” music; or something else fast paced. Any “can’t keep the feet still” kind of music, can usually put a smile on my face rather rapidly, even if it is cold and gray outside.

4. Lots of bright lights help for those dark, wintry days.

5. Great uplifting books with short, one-page stories or poems, which can be read in about two minutes – often that is as much time as I can spare – yet, given the right story, it is enough time to help me feel better mentally.

6. Schedule time for enjoyment – whether it’s going to a Christmas party, a movie, or a soak in the tub – the key words here are ‘schedule’ and ‘enjoyment’ – both necessary for sanity.

7. Schedule time for others. It is truly uplifting when we schedule time for others. The most enjoyable type of service is doing something for someone because we want to, which is more fun than doing something for someone because we are have to.

It can be as simple as smiling at someone in the mall, who is obviously having a bad day, to doing something kind for someone, anonymously. Giving service to someone, because we know they need our help, can raise our spirits as well as theirs.

8. Turn off the TV . . . frequently. It’s amazing how much I can get done when I turn off the TV. Unless it is an unusually uplifting show, TV usually does too little to improve our mind and promote a more positive outlook on life.

9. Get plenty of sleep – (I know, I laughed at this one, too). However, not only will this improve our mental state, but also our immune system.

10. Yes… #10 – If there is one thing, on my list, I definitely need to do every day to help my attitude, it is this: count my “blessings”. I know it sounds trite, but it works. The other day I started out in a very bad mood, wanting to complain about everything in my life. On the way home from driving my son to school, it occurred to me to think of something I was grateful for.

I was in a dark enough mood, that it took a moment for me to think of something – but then, as always, the first thing that came to mind were my wonderful children. . . next came by brother, and my mother – how could I ever want more in my life? After including my extended family, and my very dear friends, I went on to other things, including trivialities, such as my car running better than it had been. I ended up with a solid day of mental notes of my blessings – and my mood had done an about-face. I started feeling the holiday spirit, and was ready for Christmas music.

By now we are all aware of how mental attitude has a major influence on our health. It is obvious that mental health is important; not only in the way we feel about ourselves, but it also affects the way we treat other people. Consequently, when we are in a better mood, we naturally treat others more kindly.

That’s probably how we can have a little more peace and good will in this Holiday Season. Because the energy we give out, is the energy we get back. When we help others have more pleasant experiences in life, we will receive more pleasant experiences, in return.

So, remember while you’re “making a list, and checking it twice”, put things on the list which will uplift your own spirits, and help you to enjoy the season. We will be a lot less “scrooge-ish”, help other’s lives to be more pleasant, and contribute to our own better health.

A Blessed Holiday Season to ALL!

[reprinted from Applied Health Journal No.13]