23 Dec Stress!

StressI do not know about you but I am completely and totally stressed! Why? My clients are stressed, my judges are stressed, my trustees are stressed, our nation in general is stressed, so I guess it is natural that I am stressed. So why is there so much stress during the holidays?

Our society has driven us to an instantaneous gratification. If we cannot have everything right now then we are upset. All we have to do is look at the current generation of children to see what effect instantaneous gratification has done. Kids are extremely skilled at making their parents feel guilty about not purchasing everything they want. Than the parents place extra pressure on themselves because if they do not purchase “things” for their parents they are failures. It has become a never ending circle of stress that is crippling as well as bankrupting our nation.

Although this behavior is present year round it is particularly high during the holiday season due to the pressure to buy gifts. I wrote an article in 2007 stating that you are not a bad parent for refusing to purchase Christmas presents. I still believe today that you are not a bad parent for having a frugal holiday this year. It is crucial that we take a hold of our lives and not let others pressure us into making financial or personal decisions we are not comfortable with.

By all indicators 2010 may still be a tough year and slow economic turn around. So what can we do? Stop, listen and breathe.

Stop doing our current behavior that is adding to our stress. This behavior may be purchasing things that you cannot afford. For me it is internalizing the stress from others and trying to control the world around me. Just fyi, I am not successful at controlling everything and it is frivolous that I continue to waste energy trying. For others it is the stress of worrying about obtaining a job or putting food on the table.

We can control our behavior of purchasing things or trying to control the world. W e cannot control at times whether or not someone hires us or whether or not we can put food on the table.

For things we have no control one technique I have been taught is worry about it for five minutes and then let it go. Then the next step is putting pride aside and asking for help. Sometimes we must do things that we may not want to do. One year I delivered the Yellow Pages to make ends meet. I was a licensed attorney and not working. I needed something I could do on the fly to make ends meet while looking for a job. The Yellow Pages was the answer. I pray to God that I never have to do it again but I am not so proud that I will not do what it takes to put food on the table.

In high school my priest explained that we should never be so selfish as to take away someone’s opportunity to help us. This means that if you are hungry seek help from food banks. My office donates a barrel of food to Harvesters each month. I donate food for the specific purpose of helping others. Do not go hungry when so many are willing to help.

When the stressful behavior is stopped it is then time to listen. This step is truly harder than it appears To understand what is going in our lives we must listen to our inner voice. What makes you truly happy? Not happy for a moment or what you think others want but what truly makes you smile? What is stressing you? What is the most important thing for you? What are your goals for your life? You cannot take control or change your life until you identify these answers.

The final step is breathing. Go to a quiet place. Breathe in through your nose and out through pursed lips while counting to ten. As you exhale release all thoughts in your head. You will begin to relax as you exhale and your blood pressure may drop as well.

In addition to breathing I find music to be a great escape. I pop on my Ipod leaving the world around me. If these do not work for you find a way that is solely your opportunity to relieve stress before it is too late. Brittany Murphy’s passing as well as others we have lost this year reminds me that life is way too short. Too short to allow stress to rob precious moments.

Remember that knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have the more power you will have to reduce stress and take control of you life. You have the right to be happy and at peace.

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Former Bankruptcy Attorney to the Kansas City UAW: Ford and GM workers, now assisting the general public in Missouri and Kansas with regaining financial control using the Bankruptcy Code. 816-472-HELP (4357).

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