With the joy of the holidays also comes stress. It hits you from all sides: gift-giving, financial burdens, crowded malls, packed calendars.
It all adds up.
Dr. Amber Abernathy, assistant professor in Missouri State University's psychology department and the Mary-Charlotte Bayles Shealy Chair in Conscientious Psychology, provides tips for coping. The first tip is simple: Be prepared.
Abernathy's interest is in personality and in conscientiousness – which is one of the big five personality traits. Some of her more recent research projects include the use of meditation and mindfulness to control physiological reactions, like increased heart rate, tension and other stress responses. She elaborates.
Another important aspect is to place the stress in perspective. In the context of your life, how much does this matter?
Abernathy's research, much of which she conducts alongside Dr. Norm Shealy, has proven that long-term health can be affected by stress. But she's quick to point out that the stress doesn't have to relate back to one major trauma. In fact, it might just as likely be from the perfect storm of seemingly trivial stressors.
She recommends preparing for the battle of the stressors, so you can fight it whenever it pops up. Find the techniques that work best for you – is it journaling? Is it reciting meditations? Is it a quiet mind and breathing? Knowing this and carving out time for this self-care can minimize the negative impact stress can have on your health.