With the holiday season upon us, some of us may start to struggle to get in the right frame of mind to enjoy ourselves and our loved ones during these special occasions. Some of us are overwhelmed at work with end-of-year projects that must get done before we can go on vacation. A lucky few of us may be done with work and already on vacation, but the day-to-day bustle of shopping, wrapping gifts, and traveling to our vacation spot seems never-ending. With all of this going on, it’s no wonder the holiday season has historically been rated as one of the highest stressful periods people ever encounter. So how do we fix it? How do we get to a place of sensibility and calmness so we can continue our paths toward enjoyment – Children’s books are a great place to start!
I know, I know. I can hear it now, “Kids books? Are you crazy? How is that going to help me be less stressed?!” But let me ask, when was the last time you read a children’s book? Not just flipped through the pages but actually read one and thought about the lessons they can teach us on so many levels. ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,’ written by Judith Viorst, tells a story of helping us realize we are not alone when it feels like everything is going wrong, and it’s OK to talk about emotions and negative reactions we all tend to get caught up in. ‘The Huge Bag of Worries,’ by Virginia Ironside, is another great example of how a book meant for children can also be useful for an adult. It demonstrates how to sort through your stressors and make them more manageable. It emphasizes that we all have stress and worries, but there is something we can do about them.
Not only are some children’s books great at teaching adult lessons, but many of them are also fun to read! Take this example from the Dr. Suess book, ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go!’ “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.” What this book is trying to convey is that life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes things are downright scary, but it’ll be fine if we just take things step-by-step. We as adults can use that same advice in our own lives every now and again. When things seem to be dragging us down, we only need to turn our direction toward the things that make us better.
Now that we’ve read some children’s books and realized we aren’t alone in this stressful season, what are some tried and true methods to help us, not only now in the holiday season, but whenever we start to feel stressed out? While there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to reduce stress according to science and the experts, most agree on a few simple techniques that are proven to help get your stress under control.
Take a mindfulness break.
Being mindful helps elicit the relaxation response by bringing you to the present moment; it can break a cycle of stressful thoughts. One way to do this is to take a drink of something and focus on what your body feels during this activity. Reflect on and feel the hot or cold of the glass on your hands, the scent of the item you are drinking, and what sensation you feel as it moves down your throat. Simply spending a few minutes with this can drastically reduce the stress you are experiencing at the moment.
Ask if it’s worth it.
Try to put things in perspective by asking if the cause of your stress will matter a day, week, or year from now or if it’s worth the health problems that stress can cause. As soon as you realize that something may not be as important as you thought, it buffers the stress and helps you start to relax.
Reassess Your To-Do Lists.
If you’re trying to squeeze 30 hours of work into a 10-hour workday, you’re going to be stressed. Reducing your workload could be key to helping you get through the day feeling better. Whether that means stepping away from a committee you joined, or it involves hiring someone to complete some of your household chores for you, perfecting your time management skills can allow you to minimize the stressors that you experience, and better manage the ones you can’t avoid.
Take a break.
Don’t forget about your own needs. Take a nap, go for a short walk, read a book (like a children’s book) or watch a funny movie. Laughing relaxes the whole body and can relieve physical tension and stress.
All these methods have been proven to work to help us overcome stress no matter where it stems from. You just need to make a conscious effort to focus on one or more of the suggestions above. Also, remember that It’s better to manage your stress moment by moment rather than trying to get caught up on stress reduction after the fact. That’s because once the body becomes chronically stressed, it can take a long time to recover, and often much longer than most people realize. So, the next time you feel yourself becoming stressed, or better yet before you give yourself a chance to get stressed out, pick out a good children’s book and discover the magic that it has for the young and the old, and focus on the four steps above. By doing so, I am positive you will be able to spend the holidays as they were meant to be.
From all of us at InteraWorks – We wish you all a Happy Holiday Season full of warmth, laughter, and love!
Author – Craig Andrews, InteraWorks Facilitator
InteraWorks is a global learning company on a mission to elevate the human experience at work. Specializing in professional development and performance enablement, we offer top-rated learning programs based on four defined conditions that must exist for individuals, teams including Effective Edge, Best Year Yet, and the Essentials series. Our integrated learning framework and online tools generate immediate and sustainable breakthroughs in performance. Through decades of working at all levels in enterprise companies across many industries, we’ve built a reputation for helping people and organizations harness their focus, mindset, talent and energy to produce results that matter most.
We’ve defined four conditions that must exist for an individual, team or organization to be effective within the arena of performance and development; Accountability, Focus, Alignment, and Integrity. We’ll continue to explore these and more in our blog and look forward to your engagement and interaction with us. Stay tuned as we engage the edges.