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It’s the Happiest Time of the Year! Or is It?

8 Nov. 2017 Posted by aadams

Raquelle Solon, FEI Business Solutions Engineer

What a year 2017 has shaped up to be. There’ve been natural disasters, violent attacks and what feels like increased division across the country—and we’ve still got almost two full months left
to go.

A year like this can cause people to feel stressed, anxious, tense and emotionally charged. Add in the fact that the last two months of the year are already known to increase people’s stress and depression rates, and it doesn’t seem like such a wonderful life after all.

November and December—especially between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day—can be extremely stressful. Worrying about finding the “perfect” gift, family issues and the financial stresses of purchasing presents, extra food and travel costs threaten to push our brains
into overdrive.

So what can you do? At FEI, we invest in the idea of helping the helper: Building resilience in the face of stress and trauma related to working in a crisis field. When the everyday world outside of work starts feeling antagonistic, however, resiliency and reduced stress become increasingly important to personal well-being.

Implementing stress reduction strategies can help you finish the year stronger and less stressed out as you prioritize physical, emotional and behavioral health.

Choose Your Influences

To control external influence, my family discontinued our TV service (that’s right, only Netflix and DVDs in our household). Even if you don’t have TV, you can apply the same principles to social media and websites. I’ve stopped following several news pages, political sites and even hidden “friends” from my social media feeds when posts have increased anxiety, division or tension. I remain up-to-date on current events by choosing a dedicated timeframe to catch up on the news.

Connect with People

Maybe it’s time to forgo the gifts and focus on building healthy relationships. For holidays and birthdays, my family has gradually moved away from “stuff” and more towards experiences. This has decreased my stress levels tremendously, as I don’t have to worry about finding the right gift and can instead have fun with those closest to me.

Since volunteering is a great way to connect with people and improve your own mental health, consider engaging your employer about company-sponsored events or a potential “volunteer time off” day to improve workplace moral and well-being before the end of the year.

Care for Yourself

Eat healthy. I get hangry—hungry and angry—when I haven’t eaten, which leads to moodiness and escalated behavior. Choosing healthier food options and limiting empty calories will give your brain and body the fuel it needs.

Also make time to exercise. Going for a walk allows not only time for physical activity, but clears your mind as you start to focus on what’s most important to you.

Finally, make sure you’re getting enough sleep! Lack of sleep causes poor concentration, weight gain and mood swings.

Take Breaks

For as long as I’ve been working, I’ve heard experts say you need to get away from your work station and take a walk, eat lunch or simply get some fresh air. Giving yourself time away is an important component to reducing stress levels and decompressing. Taking a moment to breathe slows down heart rate, relaxes muscles and releases tension, and increases oxygen for improved mental and physical stamina. You can also step away during those stressful holiday family gatherings; finding a quiet place to decompress in a busy household allows you to recharge.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

Organizations can help employees during the holidays by acknowledging that all emotions are part of the human experience, including sadness and grief. While some people are planning family events, others are feeling the sharp sting of loss. Whether it’s a loved one, a pet or a circumstance, these feelings are natural and part of the human experience. Suppressing these emotions can lead to more stress and increased hostility because, as the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people.” Taking care of yourself and seeking help when necessary improves emotional and mental well-being as well as protects you from saying or doing things you might later regret.

2017 is almost over, but not quite. To increase your chances of having the most wonderful time of the year and minimizing stress, which of these strategies will you be implementing?


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