Monday, December 17, 2012

Big Idea 2013: The Year We Prioritize Beating Stress

Big Idea 2013: The Year We Prioritize Beating Stress

Arianna Huffington
President and Editor-in-Chief at The Huffington Post Media Group

These last few harried weeks of 2012 are the ideal time to start focusing on my big idea for 2013: Less Stress, More Living. The holiday season is upon us — a time to lovingly connect with family, to relax, recharge and emerge happy, content and revitalized. Just kidding. In fact, of course, it's usually the complete opposite.

But why is that? What is it about special occasions — whetherit's dinner parties or weddings or birthdays or, especially, the holidays — that fill us with such stress? Instead of leaving us recharged, the holiday season is more likely to leave us drained. Or "blorft," as Tina Fey calls it. "'Blorft' is an adjective I just made up," she writes in BossyPants, "that means 'Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.'" Most of us have been there, felt that. And many will be blorft again between now and New Year's Day, when we can officially start feeling guilty and stressed out about breaking the resolutions we'll make in response to the stress-induced overindulgence of the holiday season.

My big idea has two parts: first, acknowledging that we are overstressed, and second, taking the necessary steps to identify the sources of our stress and course-correct. And while stress isn't limited to any one time of year, I strongly believe in using opportune moments in our lives to help bring about the changes we need. At HuffPost, we did that this summer during the national conventions with the Oasis, offering yoga, massages, healthy food, meditation, and sleep consultations, to demonstrate that even in the middle of one of the busiest political weeks of the year, women and men can unplug, recharge, and hit the convention circuit renewed.

Similarly, we want to use this moment — the end of one year and the beginning of another, and all the hopes, aspirations,reflection, and resolutions that are part of this interstitial moment — to summon the ingenuity we all possess in order to reduce stress.

Because this is the perfect moment to slow down and reflect on why what should be a time of generosity, celebration, and coming together so often becomes a time of high anxiety and alienation. But of course stress isn't limited to the holidays — it'sa destructive force that affects almost every aspect of our lives, from our health and relationships to our careers and creativity.

And in fact, our stress epidemic is a major factor in one of our other debilitating national epidemics — sleep deprivation. Work stress keeps 46 percent of Americans up at night, according to a 2012 study.

The philosophy behind Less Stress, More Living is based on two truths: that we all have within us a centered place of harmony and balance, and that we all veer away from that place again and again. That's the nature of life. In fact, we may be off-course more often than we are on-course. If we understand these two truths and prioritize reducing the destructive effects of stress in our lives, 2013 can be the year we reconnect with our own creativity, wisdom, and joy.

Edited by: Lawyer Asad

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