HOLIDAY STRESS SOLUTIONS
Holiday stress solutions are as varied as the actual difficulties. This time of year, there are many articles on the subject. I am no expert, but I do have experience in handling the stress of the season.
This week I noticed that I was operating on stress overload. One of the most important holiday stress solutions is to sleep! Yes, sleep! Sleep is a necessity. Most of us tend to sleep less during this season because of work, holiday activities, and even insomnia. Instead of thinking that sleep is not a priority, please think again.
An article that recently resonated with me speaks to the sleep issue. Although the article has no relationship to the holidays, I want to share it with each of you. “After a Breakup, an App to Help Breathe, Then Run” stresses the importance of breathing and sleeping. (Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/fashion/modern-love-breakup-app-breathing-running-therapy.html?_r=2 .) This article also emphasizes using intuition as well as your head.
Sleep brings clarity which brings better decision-making. The body and mind need to rest. Last night, I slept for ten hours. It was a deep, refreshing sleep. Wonderful!
Christmas present shopping is on many people’s lists. Unfortunately it can turn into a chore instead of a pleasure. For me, I like to find gifts that speak to me.
Writing blog posts is normally a pleasure for me. When no words or ideas come, the solution usually lies in taking a step back … letting it go for now … not pushing it …
In both the writing a post and buying a Christmas present scenario, I want to be present for the process. My mind, heart and spirit need to be in a good place for a well-intentioned gift to be found as well as a heartfelt post to be shared. The solution is that I make time for solitude. It is important that I sit, breathe, and go inward in prayer, meditation, and/or contemplation. Even if I sit and thoughts keep moving across the sky of my mind, I benefit.
The day I wrote this post, I gave myself the gift of going to a spiritual workshop. Even though I had work to be accomplished and Christmas-related activities to do, I knew that first the spiritual aspect of myself needed to be fed. Fortunately, Fr. Terry Ryan was giving a presentation on Alfred Delp. I had never heard of Alfred Delp until this workshop. Alfred Delp was a Jesuit priest who was killed by the Nazis in WWII. (To read more about Alfred Delp, see: http://fatherlouie.blogspot.com/2006/12/prison-meditation-of-father-delp.html or http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/565902.Advent_of_the_Heart)
Fr. Terry Ryan has a unique gift of bringing to life the writings and lives of people, connecting more than one topic at a workshop, and giving gentle encouragement on extending the spiritual to our everyday lives. As I listened to Fr. Terry speak of the Cosmic Christ, ecology, science, Alfred Delp, Thomas Merton, Pope Francis – I found his words related to my life (and life as it is today in this world). Fr. Terry Ryan’s workshops are always spiritually enriching. I found this one more powerful on a personal level. His workshops contain 20 minutes of sitting still in silence. The combination of the talk as well as the quiet time renewed my spirit. It was with gratitude and peace that I left the room.
(Fr. Terry Ryan’s blog can be found at: http://frterrysspiritualstuff.blogspot.com/. He is one of those down-to-earth humble people who will most likely never be famous; and yet, he has enriched many people’s lives on a spiritual level and a practical one. Although Fr. Terry speaks of his tradition of Catholicism, his writings and talks are for anyone.)
Afterward Fr. Terry Ryan’s workshop, I walked and followed my heart. As I browsed in a shop I do not normally enter, I found a Christmas present for a loved one! Next, I partook of a healthy bowl of soup. Then, I found myself writing a blog post with ease.
It is important to take care of ourselves. Experiment. Instead of attacking your to do list with ferocity, take a step back. Rest a bit. Get a good sleep. Yes, let yourself have a long sleep! Then do something that enriches you on an inner level. Take a walk around a lake. Go throw a few snowballs or make a snowbuddy! Attend a spiritual workshop or service that feeds your soul.
Now, look at your to do list. Where does your heart lead you? Listen to your head, heart and gut. Intuition helps you. Sometimes each of us makes life harder than it needs to be. What actually needs to get accomplished will.
My recommendation to you is to find the peace within yourself – then act. Even if sitting silently in solitude seems like a waste of time, try it. If you mind races, so be it. The next day, sit again … You never know, you might find it more rewarding than you thought.