Rise Above the Holiday Chaos

by Carolyn Gross

Do the words "Seasons Greetings" make you sigh with delight or create tension in your neck muscles? These are clearly special times that we look forward to, yet the extra activities often throw off our schedules and leave us feeling depleted. How can we make this year a little easier?

In todays world chaos is the constant, and not just for REALTORS. If you want to rise above the chaos, you have to have a plan and take a stand.

A baptist minister, after being assigned to a new parish stayed up half the night to prepare his Christmas message. As the congregation greeted him after the service a 97 year old woman approached him and said "You're operating without any reserve. Go home and get some rest, before you wear your body out. He took the wise lady's advice, and realized she was ministering to the minister that day. How many of us need to heed the same call?

Burnout is at an all time high in this country and it has created a new phenomena called "presenteeism". "Presentesism" happens when people are too worn out or sick to be effective at work. Instead of calling in sick and getting rest, they show up on the job, but are too stressed out to be productive.

The problems of overwork and burnout have escalated as the blurring of the lines between home and work has occurred. We are wired all the time with cell phones, pagers, faxes, email. It used to be just the doctors who were on call 24/7 now it's all of us!

See how you score on this pre holiday Stress Response Test excerpt from the book, "Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos".

Answer yes or no to the following questions:

  1. I get annoyed when the cell phone rings
  2. I get headaches easily.
  3. I have digestive problems.
  4. I frequently get colds and flu.
  5. I often have interrupted sleep or insomnia.
  6. I always feel rushed.
  7. I drive too fast.
  8. I drink caffeine throughout the day.
  9. I eat high fat or sugary foods to boost my energy.
  10. I'm smoking more or I've recently started smoking again.
  11. I drink more alcohol than I used to.
  12. I often lose my temper.
  13. I can't stop thinking about my problems or "shut off" my busy brain.
  14. I'm carrying a lot of tension in my neck, back, or shoulders.
  15. I don't have the optimism I once had.
  16. I often feel fatigued.
  17. I'm often clumsy; I keep dropping or bumping into things.
  18. I seem to get into more arguments than I used to.

Count the number of "yes" responses to determine your score:

1-2. You are ready for the holidays and can withstand the extra activities with a smile. We all need you around to spread the good cheer.

3-4. It's time to be selective about the activities you take on. Slowing down a bit may help you become more effective and calm.

5-6. Some type of lifestyle change is suggested. Are you getting any exercise or renewal? Do you eat right? You need to affirm, "This holiday season I'm really taking care of ME".

7-8. If you are going through a major life crisis than this score is understandable and temporary. If not, you need several lifestyle changes and a check up on your life priorities.

9-10. Burnout is nearing, if you keep going at this pace. You aren't the one to plan the holiday party this year! Lifestyle changes and alternative health practices such as yoga, massage, and mediation are highly recommended.

11 or more Taking some time off is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Find the simplest way to celebrate your holidays and look at some major lifestyle changes. Get some professional help to stabilize your body: Acupuncture, chiropractic care, psychotherapy, regular exercise and healthy eating to name a few.

Since we no longer have work/life separation, we need to develop strategies for work/life integration or we'll start to feel like robots. My suggestion is to develop a "personal crisis reserve account". Just like a savings account where you tuck away money for when you run short, your personal crisis reserve account is about tucking away time. Scheduling an hour or two, maybe a day or two where you get away from the responsibilities and breathe.

Deposits in our crisis reserve account allow us time for human-being, without human-doing.We can rediscover our own inner rhythms of productivity, creativity, and our instincts about what's right for us. Recent studies show too much multi-tasking leads to distraction and a loss of concentration. The next time you feel your holiday schedule is spinning you out of control, it's time to do one thing at a time and invest in your personal crisis reserve account.

Carolyn Gross, an award winning speaker and author, teaches people to Manage Chaos With Confidence. She can be contacted at (760) 741 2762 or visit her website www.carolyngross.com.