Holiday Hecticness: Stress Management Techniques



I’ve always had a mixture of feelings about the holidays.  On the one hand, they are a time for families gathering together and celebration.  On the other hand—but not necessarily unrelated to the first hand—, they are a hypercommercialized and stressful season.  They are a time for endings and beginnings…of remembrance and nostalgic forebodings.  Philosophy Matters founder, JJ Sylvia, has written quite a bit about simplifying one’s existence to live the good life and theoretically be happier.  In a similar spirit, I thought I’d share a couple of things that may assist readers in reducing holiday stress outside of the clichéd (but useful) methods such as “stopping to smell the roses.”

One of my students recently taught me how to make a glitter jar, which is reminiscent of the snow globe frequently seen during holiday seasons.  She told me she often takes breaks in between studying to reduce her stress by gazing into this device that has mesmerizing powers…and the best part is that it can be fashioned in less than twenty minutes.  Here’s what you need:

  1. A medium to large size Mason, Bell, or canning jar with lid.
  2. A bottle of glitter glue (I admit I never knew this item existed before being told) in whatever color you think would make a nice background ambience for your glitter jar.
  3. As much glitter as you’d like in as many colors as you care for.
  4. A wisk or fork (note that a spatula doesn’t quite do the trick…I know from personal experience).
  5. Very hot dihydrogen monoxide (i.e., water).

To make your glitter jar, you first fill the jar ¼ to ½ full of hot water.  Next, you add a copious amount of glitter glue keeping in mind the more you add, the longer it takes your glitter to settle in the jar after a swirl.  You then wisk or fork the glitter in the hot water to break it down and create a colloidal solution (or perhaps an emulsion depending on your perspective of the particular glue you have).  After that, you add all the glitter you’d like, stir a bit, and then fill the jar up with more H2O.  Finally, you put the lid on it, and give it a good shake.  You’re done!  You now have your very own glitter jar to escape the holiday stresses for a few minutes.  I actually made mine with a holiday theme of gold and green (with a hint of red) to sort of keep with the appropriate mood.

“But, JustHeath, what if I do not have time to gather the materials or put them together?  What if I’m a festive-Grinch and don’t like artsy-craftsy things?  What if I’m too busy shopping online such that I can’t remove my hands from the input devices (i.e., keyboard and mouse) to reduce my stress by creating and using a glitter jar?”  Never fear, for JustHeath is here!  I recently read an article about an Italian genius—my accolade—who put up bubble wrap next to bus stops to allow future riders something to do to pass the time.  It actually reduces the stress and frustration of waiting by operating under the psychological principle known as occupied time…which is just doing something rather than not doing something (i.e., unoccupied time).  I personally enjoy popping bubble wrap, and to this day I still save every scrap I can gather to give to my mother who has a slight obsession with this stress relieving activity.  The authors of that aforementioned article also were kind enough to link to a website I had almost forgotten about…one with digital bubble wrap to virtually pop!  Feel free to take a break from and relieve some stress.

That’s all for this week!

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