Since 1989, I’ve been hired by a client or two to conduct a program on Stress Management during the last couple of months of the year. It might be for an accounting firm because the managing partner wants to provide the staff with strategies and tips in preparation for the upcoming tax season before things get predictably taxing – ha!. It could be for an organization that has had an especially tough year and by December the employees are too frayed and fried for genuine holiday cheer.
There are also several programs I conduct that have had a ‘stress management’ component integrated within the main content to help people deal with the frustration and weariness they have been demonstrating on the job. My job is to remain upbeat, sometimes even in the face of defeat. My aim is to be pragmatic, encouraging, and supportive. It’s also my nature. I really am optimistic about people’s ability to move forward, make progress, learn, grow, and advance.
As November turned to December, I found that my writing had a little bit of an edge to it. My tone seemed a bit more sarcastic, requiring rewrites and revisions so I could lighten my tone a bit. As more and more people griped about others in training programs even as they agreed that they couldn’t actually change another person (“But ——“), bemoaning the lack of competent employees and capable executives, my humor went from teasing, to dry, to having a bit of bite. While most of the time providing a ‘slap upside the head’ was all in my head and definitely not on my lips, I found myself hearing more venting than strategizing. And while I know that the first step in providing support is to listen and understand, there didn’t seem to be enough hours in my day for all the listening required to get people to be truly open to creating a strategy, learning a skill, or focusing on a new way they might impact the situation to improve it.
A folk song that is played often at this time of year is the song Light One Candle by Peter Yarrow. I’m pretty much an ‘any-kind-of-music’ fan and I am definitely a folk music fan. At this time of year I see the fatigue that many of my clients, training participants, and colleagues are experiencing. This has been a draining year. I listen to the disenchanted and disillusioned every day. Catastrophes, politics, the up-tick in crime and social media meanness all add to the pressure and the resulting exhaustion.
The holiday season can be tough but it can also be a time to count the blessings that you do have and focus on what you can do, and what you might do – not what OTHERS could do to make your life better.
It’s not always easy to see the up-side of things. But since it’s the opposite of the down-side, it’s always there and it exists at the same time! We all have the power to light one candle. We just have to locate the match. I can probably help you with that. I always know where to find one.