At this point in the Christmas Countdown, I'd like to stop and say "AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! One week until Christmas! What are we going to do?"
There's a reason for that. And the reason is that no matter how good your stress management skills may be, there is going to be a time where they just going to work. We fight stress, and frankly, sometimes stress wins.
Have you ever had the experience of knowing you were just stressed out to the max? That you knew, with absolute certainty, that while you could easily handle everything that was going on in life right that minute, the addition of any additional bit of pressure to your life would push you right over the edge?
That is the moment your child will discover he is virulently allergic to fruitcake - having 'sampled' some he found in the box of last year's holiday decorations. You can imagine the mess. We're talking ho-ho-oh no vomit here - a sight which sends your Very Helpful Mother-in-Law into overdrive, with ginger ale in one hand, a big wad of paper towels in the other, all while reminding you that her son at least had more sense than to eat old fruitcake. "Don't your children understand that food's not supposed to be dusty?"
You know, it's okay to fall apart sometimes. It's okay to cry. It's okay to lose it. Nobody has it together all of the time, and if they tell you they do, they're lying. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a moment, step back, and let Very Helpful Mother in Law have all the glory that comes with cleaning up the sick child.
The world will keep on spinning. Every second of every minute of every day on this planet, someone, somewhere, is having a meltdown. It hasn't stopped the world yet. The fact is, the fact that you reach your stress point of no return is not the important part of this story. The important part is what happens next.
Post-meltdown, you have two choices. You can spend time and energy feeling guilty about getting overwhelmed, or you can spend that same time and energy into making the situations that are stressing you out a little more manageable.
That starts with letting humor in. Laughter is critical to emotional resilience: we can even laugh involuntarily when our bodies experience extreme physical or emotional stress. At those times when you know you're near - or that you've gone right past! - that point where you're just too stressed out, seek out something that will make you laugh. It doesn't matter what it is. You could watch your favorite comedy, check out the silly memes on Facebook, call your funniest friend: do whatever it takes.
When you do, you'll feel those stress levels dropping right down. Inside your body, your blood pressure begins to calm down a bit. Your circulation improves, which means you feel more energetic - very important for countering the effects of stress. There are dozens of ways that laughter improves your physical well-being at the same time it lifts your mood.
We may be up against a world full of deadlines with absolutely no flex built in, gastrointestinal distress, and challenging people. These things we can not change. What we can change is the way we choose to face all of this stuff down. We can cry, most certainly. But we can also laugh.
Yes. There's one week until Christmas.
That's the traditional day to give yourself the gift of laughter. I hope you do, and I hope you truly enjoy it.