With the pressure to buy more, do more and eat more during the holiday season, this year Mercy is asking folks to simply take a moment to count blessings.
And by doing so, it’s inevitable you will reduce your stress and find some peace, said Doug Walker, PhD, clinical director of Mercy Family Center in New Orleans, La., and an expert in coping with stress.
“During the holidays, the noise level around us is at an all-time high,” said Dr. Walker. “There’s so much clutter and unrealistic expectations to cut through. With all the holiday hype, we’re under increasing pressure to buy expensive gifts for people who don’t need them and finish a to-do list a mile long. We burn ourselves out and are unable to experience the joy of the season.”
It’s no wonder, according to a study by the American Psychological Association, that 68 percent of us feel greater fatigue during the holidays, along with 61 percent who feel more stress.
But just by being still, taking some time and listing what we are thankful for, we can change the course.
“The very act of verbalizing, listing or journaling what you have to be thankful for reduces stress,” said Dr. Walker, who has helped survivors of Katrina, Japan’s tsunami, Joplin’s tornado and others through some of their darkest days. “It stops us in our tracks. There’s almost something magical about listing what you have to be thankful for. It can turn things around very quickly because all of a sudden you are looking at all you have to be grateful for. It’s all about perspectives.”
And perspectives matter. That’s why this year Mercy is sending out a simple message that blessings count.
“I get an opportunity to be with patients every day, and you would think I’m the one who’s giving and giving. But the patient is giving a blessing back and allowing me the honor and privilege to minister to them at a critical time in their life,” said Pierce McIntyre, Mercy chaplain in Northwest Arkansas.
Sister of Mercy Mary Roch Rocklage couldn’t agree more. “Blessings are a two-way street. Both people are blessed, the receiver and the giver. That’s the way of a blessing. There’s no greater way to know peace and joy than sharing our blessings.”
If you’d like to join Mercy this year in counting your blessings, you can print Mercy’s “Count Your Blessings” list and tape it to your refrigerator or go online and share your own blessings at www.OurBlessingsCount.com. Either way, be sure to spend a little time to count your blessings.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net