Moving past season of stress

Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Terry L. Whiteside, who arrived at Fort Meade in June, often uses humor in sermons to teach valuable lessons in faith. (Photo by Michael D. Williams)

Whew! The holiday season is finally over and it’s time to relax. That is, until the stressors of the holidays creep around in new and different ways. How?

There are potentially new stressors after a holiday — stressors like holiday bills coming due, exhaustion from driving all over the country visiting relatives, or just feeling that you must catch up after time away from work.

Worst of all is shedding those extra pounds and trying to get back into physical shape after all those delicious holiday meals and cookies.

Many people just give up and never deal with emotions and stressors that surface. This type of post-holiday stress leads to sleep difficulties, eating disorders, inability to focus, or more harmful behaviors like excessive drinking or just projecting anger at everyone.

There is hope. There are ways to reduce the stress and get on with an exciting and bright new year.

First, breathe. That’s right. When we take time to take deep breaths, we train our bodies to decompress and relax. There are many physiological benefits of taking deep breaths. We flood our bodies and brain with oxygen that helps us to think more clearly and, subsequently, make faster decisions that help us to address problems more thoroughly.

Second, exercise. Sure, that sounds simple, but exercise actually floods our bodies with a huge number of endorphins that give us that “feel good” rush after we have a good workout.

Sweat, push yourself, run or speed walk, do cycling or just simply lift weights. My point is, do something besides sitting on the couch and watching television and soaking in your stress.

Start slow and gradually increase your duration and pace.

Exercise also helps you to excel on your physical fitness test, which if you do well, lowers another stress.

Third, join a religious community. Surveys have shown that many people joining a religious community like a military chapel, a local church or synagogue, or other center of faith does reduce stress.

There are many people within faith communities who share similar stress and it’s encouraging to share your struggles with people who have experienced the same things you are going through. People in these communities not only relate to us as we go through the stress, but others help us in moving successfully through the stress.

Finally, write it out. Sharing your thoughts by putting pen to paper helps you think through and process your stress. Journaling helps you organize your thoughts and look at alternatives to your stress.

Once you’ve been successful in moving through your “season” of stress, you’ll be able to look back at your journal to remind you of your progress and success.

What’s best is having the ability to share your success with others who may be traveling the same road that you once traveled.

You can get stressed over your stress or you can look at constructive ways to tackle each object causing you stress.

Be resilient by making a plan to get through or over each stressful hurdle, learn from the lesson and most importantly, share your success story with others.

Team Meade!

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