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"Don't Mess With Stress" Highlights the Holidays

by B. Lee Coyne, M.S.W.

Do you feel occasionally zapped by unwanted stress when the Holidays come knocking at your door? Perhaps you feel seized by the season without feeling much glee. That is a fairly common experience for many of us.

Stress is brought about by change, positive and negative. It means our thought process has to gear up for some adjustment. Instinctively, we pause--especially if unprepared. Our old routine is broken. Do we feel threatened? Subconsciously, we often do. And the onset of the Holidays inevitably poses a challenge to our usual routine. More folks are counting on us for getting greeting cards. Or buying gifts. Or even visiting.


Retirement was "supposed" to be a time to relax, so we were led to believe. Reality is upon us, and the truth varies quite a bit. Another false assumption bites the dust.

More grandchildren to cater to can add to the burden. Getting to know their very own personalities and interests can be a plus. But it can also test our memories as well as our energies. Not to mention our pocketbooks.

If our spouse has become sick over the last year or two, we find ourselves being pulled in many directions at once. Does my mate need more attention, or can I get away to do shopping for the children and grandchildren? So we think to ourselves. It's a complex matter of competing priorities. Guilt also makes an appearance.

There are a number of helpful Stress Relief Exercises you can practice and master!

They run from Self-Talk from a script to meditation to guided imagery. Did you ever keep a diary? Try your hand at doing a Stress Journal, especially one that charts how the body responds with a delayed reaction such as a headache or tummy pains. We call that the "mind-body" linkage. By now you must know that our bodies quickly pick up all our stresses and can translate them into physical manifestations. Much of what the doctor hears is really the by-product of human frustration registered by the body. Those of us who experience high blood pressure or diabetes are aware of the connection.

Consider coming by to get coaching from a counselor who wants to assist. Holding in that stress can often backfire--and make it even worse. If you grow irritable, "Don't mess with my stress!" is the message you're sending out. There is a better way to get control, however. Learn some new techniques. That's probably the best Christmas gift you can give to yourself--more Peace of Mind.
About the Writer: Lee Coyne is a long-time tamer of bothersome stress and depression and runs the Coping Clinic of Salem. He also sees people privately at the Salem Senior Center. For more details, call (503) 365-7533. 

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