Managing Post Holiday Stress
Various research studies show that the 45 days from Thanksgiving to just past the New Year seems to be the most stressful for many individuals.
The pressure from family commitments or being alone during the time from Thanksgiving to New Years
is the roughest time of the year. Let's look at some ways to deal with stress - not only
post-holiday issues, but also other times throughout the year.
What causes people to react differently in stressful situations? Why does everybody's definition of
stress differ? There is a great analogy that I like to use in my workshops: Stress is like a
violin string! The more stress that you apply to the string (tighten the string to bring it into
tune), you achieve beautiful music. If the string is loose (no stress applied), you hear a
terrible squeaking noise. However, there is a fine line between the beautiful music
(just the right amount of stress), and the breaking point where the string snaps (too much
stress). We all know that we need some amount of stress in our life's to keep us motivated and
achieving our goals. It's that point on our personal violin string that we make the beautiful
music - we are happy, motivated, and productive.
Human beings act/react in the same manner as the violin string. Each of us has that breaking point,
and each of us operates differently under various amounts of stress. Why? There is one word that I
use to sum-up this debated topic - PERCEPTION. Each of us has heard the age-old adage about the
three L's in real estate - Location, Location, Location. The same significance can be transferred
to the three P's in stress management - Perception, Perception, Perception. The individualized
unique manner in which you view a situation will determine whether it will affect you as a
negative stressor or a positive stressor. And Yes, there is good (positive stress) and not good
(negative stress), but it is all a matter of perception. Remember, it is that fine line
between the perfectly tuned violin string playing beautiful music and the point that the
string snaps. A good example might be: We could be neighbors and both of our basements
flood during a rain storm. We both have basements with 3 feet of water of standing water.
You might turn that situation (stressor) into a nightmare - sick to your stomach,
headache, not sleeping; all due to the water in your basement. I turn the same stressor
into a positive perception by saying, "What a great time to re-decorate the basement,
something I have wanted to do for a long time."
That is perception! The water damage will be the motivating force that I need to start the re-model
process. While with my neighbor it might be the motivating force that causes high blood pressure,
an ulcer, or one of the many other illnesses associated with stress. Another good analogy is that
of boiling water. Remember back to your days of high school physics and the fact that the boiling
point of water changes with altitude? The same applies to stress. YOUR boiling point changes with
Remember you are responsible for your own well-being. You have to watch for the signs of stress
and burnout and take the necessary healing actions when you feel things are reaching your boiling
point. The best way to fight stress is to have a positive attitude and perception on the issues
around you. There is much benefit to positive attitude and positive thinking. PMA (positive
mental attitude) is a huge book, CD, and seminar business because it works! There are many
alternative activities that you can incorporate into your daily schedule which will reduce your
breaking point / boiling point from the influx of daily stressors. Self hypnosis, meditation,
creative visualization, aromatherapy, acupuncture, sleep, good nutrition, prayer, reflexology,
massage, humor, exercise, and the list goes on . . . .
Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson have developed this great test for burnout to see if you are nearing,
or past your boiling point. Please be honest with your answers. Apply the following numeric score
to each of the 21 statements:
1 = Never
2 = Once in a great while
3 = Rarely
4 = Sometimes
5 = Often
6 = Usually
7 = Always
Here are the statements:
1. Being tired
2. Feeling depressed
3. Having a good day
4. Being physically exhausted
5. Being emotionally exhausted
6. Being happy
7. Being 'wiped-out'
8. Can't take it anymore
9. Being unhappy
10. Feeling rundown
11. Feeling trapped
12. Feeling worthless
13. Being weary
14. Being troubled
15. Feeling disillusioned, resentful
16. Weak, susceptible to illness
17. Feeling hopeless
18. Feeling rejected
19. Feeling optimistic
20. Feeling energetic
21. Feeling anxious
To compute your score:
1. Add the values written for the following items: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21 ______
2. Add the values written for the following items: 3, 6, 19, 20 ______
3. Subtract your answer in line #2 from the number 32 _______
4. Add your answer in steps 1 and 3 ______
5. Divide your answer by 21. This is your burnout score _______
If your score is between 2 and 3, you are doing well.
If your score s between 3 and 4, you should examine your life and evaluate your priorities to consider possible changes.
If your score is higher than 4, you are experiencing burnout. Create a plan of action to do something about it.
If your score is higher than 5, you are in an acute state and need immediate help.