Step out of Stress and into Peace and Wellness

Has the holiday hustle and bustle left you a little frazzled? Stress from a busy holiday celebration schedule – or in the workplace or in school – can affect the mental health of even the most balanced person.

Mental health – a subject once considered taboo – is now OK to talk about. Celebrities, politicians, and media personalities have come forward with personal testimonies of their own struggles with mental health. That can be comforting to us everyday folks, in that at least we know we are not alone and neither fame nor fortune can solve everything.

According to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, lost labour due to mental illnesses cost Canada about $20.7 billion in 2012, a number that is expected to rise in succeeding years.  This is a clear call for action to employers, governments and schools to become more aware of mental health issues and find ways of addressing them…….

Some of the steps into stress that we may experience:

Shopping lists, cooking, holiday guests, and planning for celebrations can add up to stress for most people over the Christmas-time.  Sometimes it is difficult to remember if you really enjoyed the celebrations!

Technology steps up the stress meter, as cell phones and laptops make one available at all hours and increase a sense of urgency in all we do. We have become like the classic ‘Pavlovian dog” – when we hear the ping of a ‘message received’ we are programmed to immediately respond. This extreme connectedness is jeopardizing our work-life balance.

Employers step up the stress level by asking us to ‘do more with less’ and be available outside of working hours. These combined pressures affect the mental as well as the physical health of the employee.

University students struggle to cope with the pressure of university life, exam crunches and new lives away from home.   Several high-profile student suicides have prompted increased awareness of campus mental health issues.

How can we step out of stress imposed by holiday demands, workplace pressures and student life? How can we find or regain peace or mental wellness?  How about starting with a grateful heart

Researchers at the University of California did a study on 2 test groups, both kept daily notes on their medications, but one included a list of things or people to be grateful for.  After a 3-week trial, the‘gratitude group’ showed improved mental health and well-being scores, while the scores in the control group declined. The researchers say feelings of gratitude may act as a ‘buffer’ from the challenges we face in life. Other studies show similar results.

The Bible has the message “in everything give thanks.” And acknowledgements of gratitude overthrew discouragement and despair and restored peace and hope in the lives of Biblical characters.  This theme has stretched across thousands of years and lost none of its efficacy.  If good originates in a permanent and supreme power, then the source of good/gratitude in our lives is always present and infinite.  Prayer and studying Biblical examples of characters engulfed in difficult and stressful situations, who rebounded by beginning with gratitude has often helped me regain a sense of peace and well-being.

Along with prayer, here are some additional ways to step out of stress and embrace your well-being:

Did the holiday festivities leave you feeling stressed and tired?  If you take a few moments to be grateful before bedtime, studies show that you fall asleep faster, and overall you have a better quality sleep!

Employers can increase the psychological health and safety in the workplace through programs for management training to recognize and accommodate needs of the employees’well-being.  A few words of grateful acknowledgement of an employee’s efforts can create significant impact on morale.

Students’ stress can be relieved through timetable adjustments, student mental health conferences, and even pet therapy during exams – the ‘puppy room’ at Dalhousie University was greatly appreciated by students and faculty. Expressing love for an animal and having a grateful animal return unconditional love reduces stress and anxiety.

Technology is looking to grow the market share for smartphone apps that enable us to delink, like both the ‘GPS for the Soul’ (a previous article)- to help bring your thoughts to a place of balance and harmony and the new ‘Harvesting Gratefulness’ app – seeds of gratitude that can grow with each entry.

Regardless of the demands that call for constant attention or the work/study commitments, the benefits of a grateful heart include mental – and physical – health.

Benefits multiply as the gratitude multiplies.  Step into a ‘gratitude attitude’ – it’s an easy step.

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2 Responses to Step out of Stress and into Peace and Wellness

  1. Joy says:

    A very timely comment Wendy. Helpful ideas on mental health from all sides!

  2. Wendy Margolese says:

    Thank you,Joy!

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