The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

November 14, 2012

Destressing life and holidays

By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 — “The early bird catches the worm,” is an aphorism pertaining to diligence and hard work leading to successful endeavors. But what happens when we are over-diligent? What results from working too hard? Just like the toughest metal, if you put too much stress on yourself, you will break.

The holidays are bearing down on us much like an out-of-control freight train, and as has become the norm in this country, we will begin rapidly preparing for the events of the season. This will involve untold hours spent shopping, cooking, wrapping presents and traveling. Not to mention the already hectic lifestyle that many of us maintain: rearing children, participating in civic and community activities and, most tiring of all, working.

How can you do it all without cracking?

I believe one thing that can help with the stress of the holidays is taking the time to do nothing. I’m not talking about the type of nothing where you’re sitting in front of the TV or lounging around the house, waiting for something else to happen. I’m talking about truly doing nothing.

For five or 10 minutes each day, take the time to sit still and clear your mind of the plethora of thoughts and ideas inundating your every waking moment. Find a nice, quiet place to relax, whether it’s outside or a solitary corner of your home, and let your brain be at ease.

Don’t try to control the thoughts as they flow through your mind; hold no thought firmly, but let them pass through your mind like a running river. Don’t think about what you’re going to have to do later on that day, night or the next. Truly, let yourself relax.

Now, obviously, this isn’t something I advocate doing all day, but with a short little break every now and again, I think you’ll start to notice your stress levels coming down. More importantly, I think this time of solemn contemplation will help to put things in perspective for you, that it will help you prioritize the thoughts, actions and events culminating in your life.

Many people like to call this meditation; some practice a specific form or another. However, regardless of what you want to call it or how you want to practice it, it’s still important that you take the time for it.

To put it in a different perspective, let’s look at the kitchen. When grilling a steak, it’s prudent to let it sit for a minute or two after removing it from the grill. You let it sit, doing nothing. If you don’t let it set up, and you cut into it right away, all of the delicious juices and flavors will run out of it. If you rush the steak, it won’ be nearly as good.

The same is true about life. If you rush through it, trying to cut in too soon, a lot of the joy will spill out of it.

Life is about balance, trying to find a balance that works for your own individual needs. If you have to work hard in your daily life, then try to work just as hard at taking the time to relax some.

When you finally get that moment where you feel like you can breathe again, it will make the coming challenges in your life more easy to bear.