If you’re stressed over time, money or relationships you’re not alone. A national survey shows that 6 out of every 10 people report feeling stressed during the holiday season. And as many as 60 to 80 percent of doctor’s visits year round are for issues related to stress. The good news, though, is that we can all learn to be resilient.
There are 7 areas that affect our overall health and well-being. Here are some activities you can work on to strengthen each of them:
We’ve all heard this before, but it’s worth repeating:
- Don’t use tobacco or e-cigs.
- Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day. One serving is about the size of your fist.
- Get some physical activity every day. It doesn’t have to be a work out at the gym—a walk will help. The best exercise is one that you like so that you’ll do it often.
- Get enough sleep. I recommend 7 to 9 hours a night.
- Limit alcohol to 1 or 2 drinks a day. Drinking at a holiday party? Get home safely using your favorite ride service.
- Stay up to date on the important immunizations and other preventive services that your doctor recommends.
How you think affects how you feel. Healthy thinking is a skill we can all learn. But it takes time, practice and commitment. The first step is to kick the persistent negativity habit and to stop focusing on what you don’t have. Instead, take time to think about at least 3 things you appreciate or that have gone well. Do it every day. Writing it down can help.
By “career”, I mean what you do every day. You don’t have to have a high-profile or high-paying job to have career satisfaction. In fact, those jobs can be stressful and lead to depression and anxiety if they don’t fit your skills or style. When it comes to the best careers, know that some don’t pay a cent but that all of them fit the individual and create a sense of meaning, purpose and accomplishment. Find something that gives you these things.
While financial adequacy means different things to different people, it always includes controlled spending. To maximize your financial comfort, decide what you can afford, make a budget and stick to it. This is particularly important during the season of gift giving and parties. No matter how much or how little money you make, you’ll be happier if you control your spending.
Healthy social relationships are as important to your health as not smoking. Take time to develop and nurture friendships. Be kind, say “thanks” or send a thank-you note. Ask a friend out for coffee. Join a choir, or a book or service club. The opportunities to build social support are nearly endless.
A sense of community
We all need a clean and safe community where we feel accepted and valued. Creating this sense of community requires both give and take. Engage in your community; volunteer and vote. Help a neighbor in need. Do anything that makes your community a better place to live. You will reap the rewards.
A sense of purpose
In Japan, this is called ikigai. It means a reason for being. In Greek the term is eudemonia, which means the joy that comes from a life well-lived. People who experience purpose report a deep sense of joy, harmony and meaning. Purpose could come from participating in a church, synagogue, mosque or temple where you feel at home. Or it could come from creating something or building something. For most people, feeling a sense of purpose comes from taking part in activities that help others.
I encourage you to regularly find a quiet time to review how you are doing in each of these areas – and to take action and work on the ones that aren’t as strong for you. While doing this won’t keep your car from breaking down or protect you from an unpredictable health crisis, it will increase your resilience and help you weather the little hits that we each take every day. And that, ultimately, will help you be well and experience more joy in life.