The holidays are soon approaching and we will soon be busy unwrapping all the presents under the tree. In a previous post I gave you some ideas for some tangible holiday gifts you could buy for all the people in your life who are feeling stressed or who have an anxiety disorder. But there are some gifts that cannot be wrapped up or tied with a bow. Peace is one of those gifts.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives many definitions for the word “peace” which include:
• A state of tranquility or quiet
• Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
• Harmony in personal relations A related term is at peace which is defined as “in a state of concord or tranquility.”
As I read these definitions I feel a longing to be in such a frame of mind and feel free of discord in my mental state and also in my relations with others. Stress and anxiety seem to be the opposite of experiencing peacefulness. Is peace or peacefulness something we can give to others or ourselves? Despite the fact that peace is intangible, it can still be given in the form of actions, deeds, and how we relate to others.
Here are some ways you can give the gift of peace this holiday season:
• Let go of old arguments and animosity. If you have a long standing disagreement or resentment towards a friend or family member, this can be the year to let it go. I am not telling you to disregard history. I am not telling you to be a doormat or to necessarily begin a new relationship with this person. What I am saying is to let go of the power that your anger and negative feelings have over you. Imagine the time and energy you will have if you let go of all the stress and ill feelings associated with a dysfunctional relationship. Forgive so that you can feel peace of mind. Let go of your need to be right or to have the person see things your way. And then move on by filling up that empty space with positive and supportive relationships.
• Connect with others in a peaceful environment, free from distractions. We are a very “connected” society with all our cell phones, iPods, Blackberrys, computers, and gizmos and gadgets. Yet with all these ways to communicate with others, there are some people who get neglected in the process. The people who are usually the most neglected are the ones right there with us in physical time and space.
How many times have you seen mothers at playground and their child is trying to talk to the parent but mom is on the phone and can’t be disturbed? How about in restaurants where a group of co-workers have gotten together for a special lunch. But each person is turned away from the group and is on their phone texting or checking their messages. What is wrong with this picture? Get off the phone and talk to the person who is right before you. Give your friend or loved one your full attention and eliminate the technological distractions.
• Decrease your need to micro-manage others at work, in the home, and in your relationships. It can seem, on the surface that controlling every aspect of your life would lower your stress and anxiety. But all this does is to create a stressful environment for yourself and others. Do you find yourself barking out multiple orders to your kids? Do you bombard others with questions before giving the other person a chance to collect their thoughts and respond? Are you multi-tasking in your mind even as you are talking to someone? Slow down. Take the time to have a reciprocal exchange with others with a give and take. Learn to savor even the smallest of interactions without de-humanizing the experience as just another point on your to-do list.
• Develop more patience. I have always had difficulty waiting in lines and I have a tendency to become irritable and inpatient. But now I understand how my attitude can cause stress for others. I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and there are times when my cognitive abilities leave me scattered and fumble fingered. There was a day in recent memory when I was checking out at a local store and I had an MS episode which left me feeling dizzy and a bit confused. I kept trying to put my credit card into the device to pay and I kept doing it the wrong way. The clerk was very impatient and publicly scolded me in front of the others in line. I felt anxious, stressed, and humiliated. That incident caused me to feel anxious every time I waited in line at that store thereafter. It was a lesson to me that one person’s impatience can leave a lasting mark and even impair someone’s ability to feel at peace.
• Count to ten slowly before you say something you will regret. We all get angry. We all have our melting points. We may think that spouting off to someone will get rid of our stress. But it usually backfires and ends up causing more harm than good. It is all too easy nowadays to fire back at someone who we disagree with or who pushes our buttons. But before you mouth off to your boss, or send that angry email to your boyfriend, or say something hurtful to a friend, think before you speak. Give yourself time to digest what has been said and then decide if a response is appropriate. If you do decide to respond in some way, make sure you take the high road and are respectful but assertive. Give yourself and others peace, by controlling the speed of your reactions.
Feeling at peace can be a rare experience nowadays. We live in a very stressful, high-paced, and chaotic world. But despite the world we live in, we all have a choice as to how to live our lives. We can choose peacefulness as a way of being so that we, in our small way, can give others the gift of peace.
On that note, we here at AnxietyConnection want to wish all of our members a very peaceful and relaxing holiday. Thank you to everyone who visits this site. We look forward to hearing from you in this New Year.
Published On: December 20, 2010