Beat Holiday Stress

In Features, Lifestyle & Fitness, Magazine by RI Magazine

The holiday season is a pressure cooker of stress. Personal time can be your safety valve.

BY GAIL KIM-IRVINE

In December, it feels like every loose end in your life needs to be tied off. It’s as if December 31 is a cliff that you’re rushing toward, rather than an arbitrary date on a calendar. I do my best to remind myself that I don’t need to square away every little thing, but I have a tendency to fall for the illusion anyway. One can only see the words “year-end” so many times until you feel like they have to finish every single project you’ve started, priorities be damned.

The end of the year can be especially hard for my personality type; I am a planner, always thinking of what I need to do next, and I often don’t feel like I have a right to relax unless I cross everything off of my to-do list.

That’s where I’ve been able to learn from Robert. My husband is a workaholic, a machine who seems to go 24/7. The number of commitments he has—between his businesses, live shows, and USO tours—is huge. He might not have a day off for weeks at a time. When he finally does hit a lull in the schedule, he schedules a day to sleep in, work out, and recharge his batteries. In that one day, he’s able to refocus all of his energy with a bit of extra sleep and a good workout. I’ve learned that if you follow those two points you can get through any life stress.

For me, the gym has always been a priority. Relaxing has been tougher. But I’ve been getting better at scheduling time for myself and I can’t recommend it highly enough for this time of year. Sometimes I’ll use my recharge day to meet with friends and see a movie. Sometimes I schedule an hour-long bath. It can seem selfish in the face of how much you think you have to get done, but without that time to yourself, you’re not going to get much done at all! At first, stress is just a feeling, but if you let it simmer for too long it starts to manifest itself in physical symptoms. That’s when your body breaks down, you get sick, and you can’t get out of bed. Our bodies are smarter than us, and will literally force us to chill out by making us feel like crap.

I believe you should always treat the gym like an important business meeting. Schedule it and don’t miss it for anything. Add your personal days into the mix and you’ll get through the holidays stress-free.

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