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  • Writer's pictureRae Gateley, LCSW

Accepting Stress

As this challenging year lurches toward its finish line, you may find yourself preparing for holiday celebrations that have been scaled-back by COVID-19 concerns. For most people, gatherings will be smaller this year, but no matter how limited your guest list, there is one visitor you are sure to have - Stress. You can count on Stress; it always shows up for special events, and it will certainly not let a pandemic keep it away in 2020!

Stress has a reputation as a terrible houseguest - even worse than the ones who don't use a coaster under a drink or take 30-minute showers. Stress wants your time, attention, and energy; it can give you headaches and heartburn, keep you from sleeping, weaken your immune system, raise your blood pressure, increase your risk of diabetes and heart attack, and much more. Stress isn't all bad, however. We experience Stress's good side when we feel excited about something new or motivated to push ourselves and meet a challenge.

Since we can't avoid Stress, and in fact need it in order to fully enjoy our lives, let's learn to improve our relationship with it. When Stress shows up, welcome it: "Hello, I've been expecting you! You may sit over here." Establish the ground rules: "You may help me decorate and shop, but you may not nag me to take on more responsibilities. If you complain that I'm not doing enough, not doing things right, or try to frighten or shame me in any way, you will be ignored." Make a plan for what you will do if Stress misbehaves: "I will drink hot cocoa and call someone who loves me."

This holiday season, I hope that you can improve your relationship with Stress and enjoy more wonder, anticipation, and joy.

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