Author: Dr Jopie de Beer, CEO, JvR Africa Group The last few years and in particular 2018 have been very difficult and stressful for ordinary South Africans. It is well-known that stress in- and of itself is not always a bad thing. On a positive level, it can motivate people to work harder or even be more innovative. When stress levels, however, become chronic and people feel that they have very little control over their lives and livelihood, it can cause burnout, despair, and physical illness. Human systems are not built for continuous stress and the buildup of stress hormones over time become harmful, affecting our cardiovascular and immune systems, our memory, thoughts, and mood. December is the time when many South Africans leave on their annual summer holiday. Being able to take a break is critically important to try to retain emotional and physical wellness. Emotions need to calm down; and anger, frustration, and despair, if possible, should be replaced with relaxation, love, laughter, and fun. Try to cleanse yourself from the build-up and the effect of stress hormones and seek a sense of calmness, happiness, and hope. Make a conscious decision to use the holiday to replenish your physical and emotional energy. Challenge your thinking Very few of the South African challenges are within our control. The way we think is however within our control and is something we can work on. Instead of regarding South Africa as a ‘broken’ country, try to think of it as a country with opportunity. Change your thinking from one of criticizing or complaining, to trying to think of ways in which you can help/make a difference. Understand that all people are not like you Whilst fully recognizing how complex human beings are, the following examples may provide some perspective on how different we may be whilst on holiday. There are those who regard vacation as an ideal opportunity for meeting new people and having exciting experiences. This may be in total contrast to another who seeks quiet time to read, listen to music, and meditate. People also differ in how much control they take in planning and structuring their holiday. Some make lists, structure activities for every day, and keep a very close eye on spending. For these people, a good holiday is one that has been well-planned and they may not take well to any last minute change in plans. For others a holiday is all about flexibility, freedom, and ‘going with the flow’; particularly if their work usually asks of them to be planned and scheduled, they cannot wait for the freedom of only doing what is necessary and being able to change their plans any time of the day. Regard these differences as interesting and even humorous rather than a reason for stress and conflict. Respect these differences and allow people to relax according to their nature. If necessary ‘negotiate’ a compromise that could satisfy both parties. By understanding these differences, allowances can be made for both without allowing these personality styles to escalate into conflict. Talk about your differences and laugh about the benefits of both. Keep in mind that the purpose of being on holiday is to relax.