Come December, and my inbox is overrun with “ways to manage holiday stress” messages. Must be Christmas, all over, again!
Isn’t it sad and weird and a little ironic that we have somehow managed to make what supposed to be a restful season of family gatherings and community celebrations into a time of high pressure, loneliness, and stress?
How do you deal with stress? What helps you?
Whenever I run into any sort of challenge, I head for the … books. My very first impulse usually is to learn as much as I can about the beast that I’m dealing with, so that eventually I can beat it at its own game. I’m only a little bit competitive like that 🙂
As I’ve mentioned before, this fall has been very stressful for my family, so naturally, I dove deep into learning about stress and trauma. I’ve discovered some pretty crazy stuff that stress does to our bodies, way more subtle and waaaaay more insidious than I could have ever imagined.
Did you know that focusing your eyes tightly – like looking at the screen to read this message – can bring about stress response and exaggerate anxiety? Or that stress makes it more difficult for us to connect eye to eye with another person?
Chronic stress can change the tiny muscles inside the ear so you hear more of the lower tones (like the hum of furnace) and less of the human voice frequency. Is it any wonder we yell at each other when we are stressed?
And my new current favourite: the smile.
Call it “Smile Medicine,” or in the words of Thich Nhat Hunh, “Smile Yoga”. Smile relaxes the fight – flight – freeze mode, turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, and evokes a sense of ease. It even helps us breathe better.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
~ Thich Nhat Hunh
I’m respectfully signing off till after Christmas. Have the most beaty-full, wonder-full, joy-full holiday season, and remember to smile. Lots!
Hey, my name is Julia
Living with chronic pain has taught me to look for solutions in unlikely places – places where most people see only problems.
Over the years I’ve gotten to be pretty good at this problem-solving and silver-lining finding thing.
So good that I felt compelled to share what I’ve learned and help others to find their sea legs while navigating, living, and winning their battle with chronic pain.