Friday, December 13, 2019

Beware the Ghost of Holiday Stress

Happy Friday the Thirteenth.

It's two weeks before Christmas and I'm on one coast of the state at a specialty hospital being evaluated for handling the migraines. My father is in another hospital on the other side of the state with his heart rate through the roof and yet another heart procedure in his near future. Welcome to holiday stress.

How are you supposed to survive this nonsense anyway? If you have the ability (and this is definitely a skill) release what you cannot control. Ask for help. Accept that help. Connect with other people. Mix enjoyment into some of the moments of madness. Find a little hole in the wall restaurant that makes that thing you love. Seek out stories. Especially those that connect you to something larger than yourself.  Case in point: In the parking lot of the hotel, a huge brown tabby and white polydactyl cat greets hotel guests with head bonks and purrs. It seems the hotel helps manage a colony of feral and abandoned cats on property. When the last hurricane blew through, the hotel put the colony cats up in one of the hotel rooms to keep them safe. Did that not restore a little faith and lower your stress a tiny bit? (PS: The cat's name is Nala.)

Most of us think in terms of stress being a bad thing. But in the dark of winter when most of us in the northern hemisphere want to retreat from the cold, the gray skies, and from life itself, stress kicks us back into gear. Our blood moves faster. Stress warms us a touch. Chronic unrelieved stress is bad. That’s not the holidays, that's siege. So if your family situation feels like standing up on the barricades, it needs to be addressed. Preferably with a professional. Your well-being and peace of spirit aren't worth days of torture and anguish.

For run of the mill 'too many things on the list and not enough time' kinds of stress, ask for and accept help. Got to change that light bulb way up in the ceiling? Ask for help bringing in the ladder. Or holding the ladder. Don't let the cat talk you into letting her scale all the way to the top. She'll just show off and then bite you when you try to keep her from falling off. Ask me how I know.

Put a silly holiday show on the TV. Or a decorating show. Or a shoot-em up. Whatever is your holiday jam. Rock through that list of yours in the company of people you actively enjoy. If someone is in the kitchen making treats while you finish up the holiday card list, bonus. And don’t forget the power of exercise to keep you from murdering your nearest and dearest. Channel a little holiday spirit with a bracing walk in whichever winter wonderland you occupy.


  1. How did I not realize it's Friday the 13th?! Time for me to pick out that hole-in-the-wall restaurant ;)

    1. I found a place in West Jacksonville, FL called Murray Hillbilly. It serves vegan Southern Comfort food. It was awesome. Even my poor beleaguered carnivore husband liked their 'hamburger'. Chocolate peppermint cupcakes helped, too.