Holidays can be stressful times. Sure, they are fun. It’s nice (most of the time) to see family members you may not have seen in a while. There is usually some extra time off from work.
But the Christmas holidays still can weigh on you. There’s all the gift-buying you have to do. There’s the rush to get work done more quickly so you can afford to take an extra day or two off here and there. There’s the frenzied nature of getting the car packed for the trip to grandma’s house or to the airport where the crowds will be suffocating.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I was talking to a friend the other day who was describing stress management techniques to me.
Babies, she said, manage their stress by sucking their thumb. Apparently that’s an innate skill babies are born with and it’s comforting to them to be able to do something they are good at. So..., they suck their thumb. I did not realize babies could be stressed unless they were hungry or in dirty diapers, or truly sick. But then again, I’ve never really had much of a conversation with any babies about what they were stressing over.
So far as I know, I was not an inveterate thumb-sucker as a child. My parents managed to break me of that habit early on and it never really was an issue. The pacifier, though, was another matter. We’ll just, ummm, save that story for another day. I suppose my lack of thumb-sucking was an indication that I led a pretty stress-free babyhood, for which I’m grateful. It would be a raw deal if I’d had to deal with high blood-pressure issues as an 18-month-old.
My friend, thankfully, wasn’t suggesting that I should start sucking my thumb to manage holiday stress. Neither did she suggest that daily meditation was a good idea for me, though it apparently works for some people.
She did, however, suggest an equally foolish idea that seems so silly I just might try it regularly. She suggested that I take my thumb and my pointer finger and just rub them together for three minutes.
“Really focus on it,” she said. “Feel your fingers touching each other. Which finger do you actually feel? What does it feel like? Is it rough? Is it smooth? Really focus on it,” she said.
It seemed to me like doing that would be a distraction when I have a lot going on in my daily routine and, though it’s only for three minutes, I couldn’t understand the value in stopping what I was doing just to rub my fingers together.
But I think that’s the point. Stop doing the things that have to be done and focus, for just a few minutes, on something that doesn’t have to be done and something that you’re good at. I am, by the way, pretty darn good at rubbing my thumb and pointer finger together.
Apparently a few minutes away from the stressful things in your life helps reduce your stress and anxiety and better equips you to return to the fray.
At some point in the not-too-distant future, I am going to have to brave the crowds in local stores and bop somebody over the head when they try to take the last Christmas sweater off the shelf and leave me with no good options. I am going to have to deal with the frenzy of houses crammed to the rafters with people who are talking and laughing really loud and children who will press me to learn what Santa Claus will bring them this year.
I will retreat to a corner and rub my thumb and pointer finger together for three minutes and I will focus on which finger I’m actually feeling when I do that. The store clerk or my family members will all think I’m acting weird and wonder what the heck is going on. But that’s OK, because I won’t be stressing any more!
For the record, when I tried it, I felt my pointer finger, not my thumb.
Hopefully, your holidays won’t be so stressful that you find yourself retreating to a corner to rub your fingers together. But if the frantic pace of life over the next few weeks gets to you, at least you’ll know how to chill.