The festive season brings with it excitement, hectic celebrations and social activity. Meeting friends and relatives, visiting puja pandals, offering prayers, dressing up, eating goodies, staying up late at night, are all part of the excitement and frenzy that grip us during this time. While we look forward to the festivities, we do not realise that participation in all this social activity can sometimes become a source of stress and take a toll on our physical and mental well-being.
At the physical level, our biological clock gets upset when we sleep less than usual or there are changes in our times of waking up and going to sleep. As we attend social gatherings we tend to consume sweets and savouries that are high in calories with little opportunity and time to exercise, which further disturbs our metabolic system. Many people end up with stomach issues, fatigue and proneness to viral infection during this season.
At the psychological level, stress can occur when we are unable to manage our time well and feel burdened with too many pressing engagements. For instance, while Ashima always looked forward to the festive season and waited to join the celebrations with her friends and family, this year, she felt stressed and anxious. The reason for her anxiety was her commitment to her family to join the celebrations on the one hand, and on the other hand the pending school projects that were due almost at the same time. She could neither enjoy the festivities nor concentrate on her school work. She ended up feeling guilty, unhappy and quite stressed.
Sometimes the source of stress can be seemingly mundane things such as the pressure to look good. For Nikita, it was so important to look good at social gatherings that she went on a crash diet a few days before the start of the festivities. She went on a shopping spree, bought new clothes and jewellery, and spent hours in the beauty parlour to improve her appearance. Instead of giving her joy, the pressure to look good took a toll on her and she ended up feeling very anxious, physically exhausted and unhappy. For others, not getting invited to popular events, friends ignoring their invites or simply the pressure to attend rituals that one does not relate to, can become sources of stress.
Dealing with pressure that arises from situations such as these requires us to develop time management skills and a little bit of planning and organisation.
If we know in advance where our priorities lie, we can strike a balance, manage our time well and not feel stressed in the process. In addition to this, we should not let the pressure to belong and seek approval from our peers come in the way of our enjoying and celebrating the different hues of life.
All festivals spread the message of joy and equanimity, and they lie within us!