“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”
It’s clear that being prepared for the mishaps and disasters that often befall us fosters a sense of calm and well-being. We’ve spent all year preparing for just this reason: so that we need not fear an unforeseen crisis.
And then come the holidays.
This time of year can be stressful, taking its toll on our emotional and spiritual well-being. Here is where we see evidence of how important it is to include spiritual and emotional preparedness in our plans for self-reliance. There’s no doubt: being physically and financially prepared does bring a certain measure of calmness. You may think you are prepared for a crisis. But how well will you stand up to the prolonged stress of a major crisis or disaster?
Stress triggers can be a call
Rather than dreading the stress that the holiday season creates for you, think of it as a dry run for a major crisis. Just like a disaster or other crisis, the holidays are a time when family and social expectations may be more than you bargained for. You may have to prepare lots of meals and extra food, often with a time crunch. You may find finances are a bit strained. And during all of this, you may find you have little time for your own self-care.
What can you do about it?
Here are some practices that may help you build your spiritual and emotional reserves:
- Find peace and direction from the scriptures and prayer. Hopefully this is your first resort for any kind of stress, but it takes a conscious effort to make it a daily part of your life.
- Yoga or exercise. Exercise improves both body and mental function. Studies show that 30 minutes of aerobic activity is as effective at treating depression and anxiety as Prozac.
- Meditation or mindfulness practices. Studies show that, among other things, meditation increases energy and focus, lowers blood pressure and improves the immune system. Two of my favorite places for guided meditation are Meditate with Phil and Mindfulness Plus. Mindfulness Plus has short, about 20 min long sessions that build one upon the other, so start at the beginning. Or you can try a meditation app. Sattva is the #1 app on iTunes.
I’ve been using Buddhify for over a year. It’s especially good when you don’t have a lot of time.
- Knitting/crocheting/coloring. Science agrees: activities such as coloring and yarncrafts have lots of health benefits. These activities help you relax, improve your mental acuity and reorder your thinking. Bonus: you’ll also be making something useful.
- Prioritizing. Learn to focus on what is most needful, delegate what you can and just leave the rest.
Make spiritual and emotional preparedness your goal
If you have difficulty responding to the stress of the holidays, consider this your call to create new (or better) reservoirs of emotional and spiritual strength. This will not only serve you well through the holidays, but during any time of stress. Don’t wait until stress overtakes you. Practice the things that will see you through this stressful season. Then when crunch time arrives, you are prepared in all ways: physically, emotionally and spiritually.