Stress Budget during the holidays

Less Stress BudgetThe holidays can be festive times. They can be fun and happy for many people. But it can also be sad and stressful for many. An activity that helps my clients is creating a stress budget in times of burnout, hardship and during the holidays. Just like a financial budget tracks spending of money, a stress budget tracks the expenditure of stress!

Let me show you an example and offer an activity for you to try:
Let's assume that one starts the work week with 100 units of stress resistance or self-care units.

 Awoken up in the middle of the night by son coming home past curfew and making too much noise
 Argument with colleague during board meeting
 Dealing with normal work hassles
 Driving home 
 Argument with with spouse

In this scenario you are left with a little bit of currency in reserve. After watching your favorite TV show, getting a good meal and 8 hours of sleep, you are likely to charge all the way back up to 100 or higher for the next day.

Although, not everyday looks like this with a reserve:
 Breakfast argument with spouse ad son
 Accident on the highway on your way to work makes you late
 Dealing with normal work hassles
 Argument with secretary 
 Major crisis occurs: Your wife was in an automobile accident
Did not complete all work and boss is stressing out
 Drive home

You may have overspent your reserve by 30 units!

Not everyday do you get to re-charge. Maybe that night you had to eat fast food as your wife was in the hospital for four hours. By the time everyone is home it is past your bed time and you did not get to enjoy any "me" time. The night is restless as you keep checking on your wife and worry about her car. So you start with only a balance of 65 the next day.
 Car does not start at first
 Deal with normal work hassles 
 Drive home
 Son wants to talk to you about his bad day
 Take care of cooking dinner and caring for wife
Now the day is over and you are exhausted. You still have a totaled car to deal with and dirty dishes and laundry are piling up. All you want to do is go to bed!

Especially during the holidays where there is even more stress! There are presents to shop for and purchase. There are family and relatives to visit and greet. There are community and job get-togethers and parties to attend and contribute to. There are holiday meals to create and contribute to. There are decorations to put up through-out, around and on the house. There is a sense of volunteerism (to help those less fortunate).
All of these activities (and more) are can be fun but they can also take even more of your self-care units or stress resistance units.This can cause a lot of stress and difficulties especially when our self-care units are already really low from a crisis, like an automobile accident or  family emergency.

So what to do about this?
Just as with financial budgeting, some planning can really help. Plan out and decide which festivities you are going to try to be involved with in advanced. Schedule time in for self-care. Even when life is hectic and unpredictable, be cognizant of your own needs. For some people, going to bed earlier will help re-charge their self-care units. For others, this might mean leaving time at the end of the day for a hobby (like exercising, musical instrument, playing cards with friends, watching TV, relaxing with tea and a hot bath, yoga, etc). I offer even more ideas for hobbies and relaxation methods in this post. 
Also another key to this is prioritizing tasks in life. I speak about this in more detail in my video. In order to decide what to do during the holidays, we must decide if the activity is important enough for us. If the activity is not important or relevant to you, in some cases, it may be better to stay home and re-charge instead of feeling like you must go to every event.
So the main message is two-fold. The first is preventative in deciding in advance (planing out) some holiday events. The second is an on-going habit of intentional self-care time. The third is in communication. Let your friends an loved ones know where you are at stress-wise. If you imagine that your self-care units are getting low and you need time alone or to get more rest, let others know. They will be more likely to understand when the situation is explained to them and transition from holiday events will go smoother.


Depression Wednesday Link List

Wednesday Link List

Here are this weeks' links:

1. CBT During Dialysis May Combat Depression by PsychCentral

2. Depression and recovery summed up nicely in a picture by Danny Baker

3. How to Transform Depression Into Awe by The Change Blog

4. Exercise May Allay Anxiety, Depression by the MedPage
5. Down in the Dumps? How to Become a More Positive Person by Dumb Little Man

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Moving Away

On Mondays, I like to post something a little more person and about me. Today, the topic is about moving away. When I  was eleven years old my family moved away from the house I had grown up in. We had spent, what seemed like an eternity to me a as a child, about 5 years in this house in Kenova, WV. We moved to a larger city in Athens, Ohio which was about 2 hours away. While my step-father was moving up in his career and earning enough to raise the family in a more fortunate way, it was still tough for me. At that time my best friends lived in Kenova and it was a tough transition for me initially. I did not make friends quickly and the ones that did socialize with me were not the best influence on me.  It took some time for me to really develop healthy friends and begin to get settled into Athens. So when I see clients who are struggling in a new social situation or who are having a tough time with moving,, I realize that moving away can be really tough on a child.
As for me, I lived out the rest of my adolescent, teenage-age years and part of college life in Athens. I fell in love with the place. It is a beautiful city (mostly just the campus of Ohio University). It was at this institution that I learned a lot about my faith and myself. I was really involved with Campus Crusade for Christ in college and I really grew a lot socially during this time frame.
I have moved from Athens, Oh. And I have found that moving as an adult is not the same as moving as a child. I find the transition a little bit easier each time, but I am a a season of life where I only need to take care of myself, so it is pretty easy to pack a bag and go wherever life takes me.