by Wayne W. Bradley, Sr.

The holidays are here, ready or not. In addition to the sights and sounds, the season is also accompanied by added stress. While we deal with stress throughout the year, the holidays can be an added layer of emotional wrenching.  Life in general can be stressful—family, work, health and daily demands. But, we can take steps to regain control and reduce or eliminate stress which is a major contributor to illnesses and even death.

Many things may be beyond our control, but they can still be managed.  Let’s start with our time and health. Saying “no” and not taking on more than our lives, days and wallets can handle is the first step to reducing, or at least not piling on the stress. Having more to do than our time allows, places us under pressure. And, that is a bad thing. It is a mental burden with negative physical implications. High blood pressure, ulcers and headaches are a few of the early indicators of stress induced health issues. Managing time is managing our health, as it does not negatively contribute to it. Yet, making sure we eat a balanced diet and get proper exercise strengthens our ability to ward off stress induced problems; it’s our coat of armor to ward off the health challenges.

The things over which we have less control like the stress at our jobs, dealing with community challenges such as crime and safety, and worrying about our family are real, but can be met with a different approach in order to have a different outcome. While these are normal, day-to-day contributors to stress, we have to accept our limited role and impact on their occurrences. Worrying about things is normal…to a degree. Allowing ourselves to be obsessed with worry is not normal, nor is it healthy! It also does nothing to change the outcome of the situation. Learning and accepting what we can control is the first and most important step. We can’t hold ourselves responsible for that upon which we honestly have no impact or influence, period. Whether by faith or personal discipline, we must relinquish the anxiety we impose upon ourselves when we assume liability and responsibility for these things.

Lastly, those things over which we do have control or influence must be managed. Without doing so, we will be overburdened and quickly burned out. Try making a list of the things that matter and the things that don’t; this simple act can give us a visual guide to what we can and cannot manage. Also, finding ways to personally de-stress are also important. This can mean anything from participating in a recreational activity or meditating to just taking a personal “time out” to gather your thoughts, feelings, focus and composure.

There are many non-medical websites dedicated to sharing stress reducing recipes and practices, all for your best heath and peace of mind.

The holidays should be enjoyable, not stressful. Let the festivities begin!

This information is provided as informational only, and is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Please visit your medical practitioner for all matters related to health, wellness and relative practices. Contact Detroit Community Health Connection for more information or an appointment.