Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas time

Haven't updated my blog for a while, because work has been busy. We just moved 400 prisoners from one prison to another in 1/2 a day. Preparations for the move have been very busy.

One of the biggest issues has been helping people, both staff and prisoners (we call them "residents" at our special Re-Entry Facility here), deal with change.

Change, whether good or bad, causes stress. A little stress is good, as it can cause us to step up to a challenge and improve. However, stress over a long period of time can cause health and mental issues. Helping 400 people to adjust to a new environment, which is smaller and requiring a lot of fixing up, means lots of adjusting. While they wait for school, programming and prison jobs to come up, they often sit in boredom. If not handled right, it could be the setting for big tensions and problems. A form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur through a long period of stress.

Christmas can also be a stressful time. We often have high expectations of happiness and joy, hopes of family togetherness, and perhaps a wish for the perfect present. Disappointments are often equally high during this time, as family strive to get along with each other, the dinner may not turn out as good as hoped, and the PSP does not show up under the tree.

In any time of stress, it is important that we review our priorities and responses to events. What type of thinking can best enhance our experience, and reduce the stress? In this, Christ set a perfect example. When times became difficult and overwhelming, he often wandered off on his own to ponder, meditate and pray. Time to get our thoughts back in order, to re-establish our base, is very important in handling stress.

So, make sure you take time during the Christmas rush to slow down, pause, relax your brain and body, and get back in tune with God.