Are You Feeling Stressed?

author image

December 23, 2008

By Lynn Difley
It’s only a matter of hours until the magic of Christmas arrives. Are you stressed about it? This year is a particularly tough one: the economy is bleak so that for many folks, the budget is adding to the ordinary challenges of getting it all done and completing the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and entertaining list without feeling completely frazzled.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, I have a suggestion to help out. As my grandmother used to say, “count your blessings.” In modern day positive psychology we call it optimism, or practicing gratitude. No matter how you say it, when times seem bleak, it helps to step back and adjust the focus, to look at things a little differently.
Let’s say, you are on an “extended holiday” or “leave from work.” Why not regard this break from the workday schedule as a golden opportunity. If you are not working, you have time to spend with family, making your own decorations and gifts and sharing memories instead of credit card bills. If you are being squeezed by the lack of spending cash, use this as an opportunity to change the routine, to create new rituals and habits that are based on the more important values of spending time and energy with family and friends, rather than buying things and acquiring goods.
It’s all about the magic, not the money, and this forced economic cut back can be the wake up call for us all. The best way to de-stress and relax so that you enjoy the holidays is to take a look around at what you have and what you are grateful for. Losing a house can seem like a devastating blow, but it’s not as bad as losing a husband or wife. Getting laid off may seem like the end of the world, but caring for a terminally ill cancer patient is 100 times worse.
I know several people who said losing their job was the best thing that ever happened to them, it broke the cycle of work-buy-work to pay for stuff that was a burden threatening both health and happiness. One woman I know said that losing her high paying job gave her a chance to really consider what she wanted to do with her life. It turned out she really wanted to study nursing and spend the rest of her days relieving others pain. She applied for a scholarship to the university nursing school and has launched herself off in a whole new direction.
A positive attitude is a beneficial practice and I highly recommend it during the worse times of stress. When your blood pressure is high and you are caught in yet another traffic jam, take a few deep breaths and consider all the things in your life that give you happiness. No matter how small, it is those things that nurture us and keep us going: the thump of our beloved pet’s tail, a small hand in ours as we take a walk, the smell of paper white narcissus or pine. Look around you and choose from a myriad of beautiful, sustaining, life affirming goodies that are all a part of your daily life. Give thanks for the good things, and have a great holiday.

Leave a Reply


  1. I just happen to be caring for my wife who has terminal lung cancer in its final stages. I disagree that this is stressful in the extreme one just copes with what needs to be done day by day and I give thanks for every moment we can be together. This is the second time around for me and the stress comes later when all is done and finished for then one has time for oneself again and putting life back together is the real stressor.

  2. Stressed? Not me! The very best thing that happened to me this year was when after 65 years of wondering what is WRONG with me, I found out! I found I have something called Adult ADD and now with the harmless non-addictive medication that I’ve been prescribed, my life has turned around completely. I haven’t felt better in decades than I do now.

    If you have the symptoms of Adult or childhood ADD/ADHD, don’t wait another minute–get tested and before you know it, your life could turnaround too. If you’ve held more than 10 jobs in the last 20 years–look into Adult ADD. Not many people want to talk about this, but it’s not a bad thing to have–if you look at it in a POSITIVE way. I really recommend getting the book “Driven From Distraction”, it could be the best $15 you ever spent.

    Sorry Lynn, I didn’t mean to take away from your words of wisdom, I’m just a strong advocate for Adult ADD/ADHD now that for the first time in my life, I’ve found true Joy and Happiness. Everything ever said NEGATIVE about ADD, I’ve been able to turn into a POSITIVE!

    Gypsy John

  3. Pingback: Are You Feeling Stressed? |