Many of us feel bombarded by events beyond our control from time to time. Our neighbors to the east in NY and NJ suffered such stress recently when unprecedented weather brought havoc on them, with many suffering staggering property and personal losses. Weeks later, we still get daily updates in the media on their continuing dire circumstances. While unpredictable stresses like hurricanes are indeed beyond our control, at this time of year as the days grow noticeably shorter and we approach the Christmas holiday, another kind of stress creeps up on many of us, brought on by the perception that we may be missing out on something that most everybody else has but is missing for us.
Call it loneliness in the midst of people or disconnectedness from people who should be connected to us. This time of year with the shorter daylight and busier than ever schedules we keep, it seems that there is a conspiracy to bring many of us down into the dumps rather than uplifting us. As you read this between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you may agree with me that many Americans find their family and social situations more stressful at this time of year than at any other. These seasonal pressures may be caused by a lack of money, lack of time, isolation from family or social contacts, or lack of sleep.
Mental health experts advise us to counter these stresses by taking a step back and slowing down, pacing ourselves and taking an inward look. Whether the stress come from how we misuse our credit cards, our diets, our social commitments, or our sleeping times, these experts are correct: much of the answer to dealing with these seasonal stresses can be found within ourselves and our beliefs. To that extent, it is up to the individual to find for him or her self-how to recharge one’s attitudes with an approach to the season based on a balanced plan and an act of will.
A balanced plan calls for moderation is what we expect of ourselves, our loved ones and our colleagues. Unrealistic expectations for the season are sure to lead to more stress in our lives. To a large extent we control our reactions to seasonal distresses. We can, if we set our course to do so, steer around the stresses and avoid their controlling influences. As a means of focusing our attention and de-stressing our lives, it serves many of us well to remember the fragile young mother and child celebrated at Christmas and the religious faith that sustained them.
Finally, any time of year is a good time to remember that help is available for resolving interpersonal strife and stress between two feuding parties. Help is available all year long from a local organization dedicated to solving disputes: Mediation Services of Adams County. MSCA makes available certified volunteer mediators who receive many hours of training aimed at bringing amicable closure to disputes between parties. Just call 717 334-7312 to start the mediation process.
Andrew Miner is a MSAC Board Member and also serves as an Anti-Bullying Coach.