Dealing with Stress & Anxiety During the Holidays and Every Day
Laverne’s mission is to help people manage stress & anxiety and cross their finish lines. She is a champion of underdog and underserved stories, and the people behind them. As a film and television producer, a leadership and personal coach, a certified grief counselor, and a professor at Northwestern’s MS Leadership for Creative Enterprises program, Laverne is dedicated to showing us how to find and use values to overcome stress and live a fulfilling life. See her website for more information: LaverneMcKinnon.com
When the Jewish New Year arrived, I got many questions about faith and calendars from Human Resource departments. They wanted to know why the holiday occurs on a different day each year according to our secular calendar. And they asked about food associated with the holiday. Offering the traditional apples and honey for a sweet New Year was the easy part. Explaining the timing was the real challenge.
What should I write about religion and religious calendars in these contentious times? I know that many organizations and companies would prefer that the issue of religious diversity would disappear. But every year, thousands of religion-based lawsuits claiming a “hostile or offensive work environment” are registered with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
The holiday season for the Hindu Community all over the world is marked by the ‘The Fesitival of Lights’- Devali. The myth and story of Devali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil; and it is with each Devali and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts, that this simple truth finds new reason and hope. From darkness unto light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds, that which brings us closer to divinity. During Devali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, togetherness and hope.
When asked to writing stories about the holidays, Thanksgivings or Chanukahs past, I thought, “Oh sure, that would be great. I can whip something up in no time.” So, with a deadline of about eight days, I sat down to gather my thoughts and begin. Initially, I thought I’d do Chanukah.
The holidays can be a wonderful and cozy time of year. We reconnect with those long forgotten warm sweaters that have waited patiently for us in the back of our closets. Everything we eat and drink is pumpkin flavored. We start to look longingly at our fireplaces, and even anticipate the first snowfall. But for many people, the shift out of daylight savings and other harbingers of fall and winter create feelings of anxiety, loneliness, anger, and depression. Many therapists report an upswing in referrals this time of year, and the focus is often on the difficult feelings that colder weather, less sunshine, and the approaching holiday season evokes.
It has been fifteen Christmases since my mother passed. But, I can’t help remembering all the lessons she taught me – especially one regarding what Christmas is all about. It was Christmas Eve, 1987. I was a young naval officer and I had been at sea nearly 100 days straight escorting U.S.-flagged tankers through the Persian Gulf in the largest convoy operation since WWII. On this particular Christmas, my ship, the aircraft carrier, USS Midway, was just outside the Strait of Hormuz, off the coast of Iran, while Iran and Iraq were approaching their sixth year of war with each other.
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Mall, last minute shoppers scurried from store to store; short on patience and with little evidence of the holiday spirit of love. The only ones smiling were the store owners and the costumed Santa, who gets paid to be jolly.