Nothing ages you faster than stress.

Nothing ages you faster than stress.

Have you ever noticed that you look older after a long bout with problems, either at home or at work?

The word stress is so overused that it has become the definition for everything that doesn’t go right. When I was a young woman, I never saw an article or even heard a discussion about holiday-season stress. I realize that the culture has become infused with multitasking and that many of those tasks were done in the past by women not in the work force.

Many explanations are given for the emergence of holiday stress, and I’m sure many of you are quite familiar with them. However, I am confused as to why year after year we have to be presented with those reasons and how to handle them. It’s like talking about New England winters. They come, they go and they come again. If you still have yet to buy winter gear, you are someone who is living in an altered state.

Holiday stress is like a lot of other stress – much of it is self-imposed. Some situations don’t fit that criteria, such as the memories of lost loved ones, financial difficulties or illnesses.

We can find many reasons why we think we need to do certain things around this time of year. But if we really thought about it rationally, becoming nuts about it simply doesn’t ring true. I doubt if anyone on their deathbed spent their last few moments agonizing over a pie they forgot to make or a gift they didn’t like.

It’s unfortunate that so much of the holiday season has become consumer-driven. Not a day goes by without a report on retail sales and how they may or may not exceed last year’s results.

Are we supposed to feel guilty if we don’t beat the goals set by the myriad stores selling Christmas goodies? Will we be reported to the holiday police if we don’t buy someone the right gift? What if I decide to change the expectations and react in a different way so some of the stress is reduced? Essentially that’s what stress management is all about. Change how you think about something and magically the outcome changes.

So I suggest you give yourself the gift of serenity and inner peace by creating a realistic and joyful season. Do what you can and have enjoyment doing it. If you can’t do anything, exchange smiles, good will and a sense of humor.

One of my mother’s favorite quotes was “this to shall pass.” Everything does sooner or later, so have fun. Fun is one of the few things that’s free and it’s contagious.

“I often feel that a lot of what the culture feels is hip and groovy has hindered people from being present to life.”

Today marks the last time I will be writing this article for Gate House Media and I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you for reading it over the years.
Having to come up with something of value and interest every week can be daunting. I know as someone who has done thousands of talks in a host of venues that we don’t always hit the mark. I was fortunate to be “in the zone” many times, but I also know that there were times when I was simply on autopilot.
My style of writing has been analogous to how I was brought up, and the many years of teaching stress management. I am essentially a pragmatist and I have tried to extend that viewpoint through my articles. Having been on this planet for an extended period of time has allowed me to view how the culture has shifted in so many ways. I realize that’s called progress, but I am constantly amazed at how we have simultaneously regressed. I’m sure some might view the aforementioned sentence as someone who might not be “with it”. In many ways I don’t want to be part of all the new advancements which are supposed to make life easier. I often feel that a lot of what the culture feels is hip and groovy has hindered people from being present to life. I’m sure this viewpoint has been expressed by previous generations. My mother thought Elvis Presley was an abomination.
I am hoping that as a society we might become more adept at teaching common sense and critical thinking skills from the first grade on. Perhaps that might counter some of the incivility that has crept into society more and more. I would love to see people in healthcare more concerned about lifestyle habits and less about medicating individuals as the easy way out. I yearn to see more individuals smile, laugh and becoming the fun they’re seeking. I like the ability to connect through Facebook, texting, e-mail and such, but nothing beats a face to face conversation.
Aging has taught me a very important lesson. It is absolutely necessary to enjoy as much of your day to day as possible since our days are truly numbered. Try to “be” a human being and not a human doing. We never know when what we take for granted will no longer be available. Also try to understand the importance of endings. Some we choose and those we don’t. They can be great fodder for becoming more resilient. I wish the best for all of you. And I leave you with the following by Winston Churchill “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, But it is perhaps the end of the beginning”

~You can continue to read great articles from Loretta LaRoche on her Facebook page and her Get A Life Blog. This is not the end. 🙂


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