The Christmas holidays are meant to be a time for joy, peace and celebration. However, it can often turn into extra stress, pressure, and conflict. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what the angels meant when they declared,
“Fear not. I bring you good news that will cause great joy to everyone.” Luke 2:10
The meaning of Christmas can be lost in parties, gifts, and pressure. Sometimes the stress of it all seems inevitable. But with some practical tips, you can reduce the stress that comes with the holiday season and possibly even enjoy the holiday more than you think.
Just as Christmas is a season that comes all year round, our lives also experience seasons. This could be a year filled with joy for you. If you have a new family member, your Christmas can be fun but chaotic. Perhaps you have experienced loss this year. If someone close to you recently passed away or you are unable to be with loved ones for other reasons, understand that it is natural to experience sadness and grief. Recognize your feelings and circumstances and plan the holidays with these in mind.
Prevent holiday stress
It’s hard to stop and regroup when the stress is at its peak. Try to avoid stress in the first place, especially if previous holidays have taken a toll on you emotionally. Here are some practical ways to reduce stress during the holiday season.
Remember what it’s all about
Finally, Christmas is about Jesus and the miracle of Emmanuel: God is with us. It’s easy to get lost in the busyness and madness of it all. If you find yourself caught up in the chaos of Christmas, then take a moment and remember Emmanuel. Christmas is the time when God became man, born of a virgin, to reveal to us the Father. That’s what it’s all about.
The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, who will call him Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
The holidays don’t have to be perfect or exactly the same as last year. Traditions and rituals need to adapt as families change and grow. Pick a few to keep and be ready to create new ones. If your adult children or relatives can’t visit you, find new ways to celebrate together, such as a virtual meeting via video call. Even if your holiday plans are different this year, there are ways to celebrate.
Prepare ahead of time
Once you’ve planned your holiday, take the time to shop and bake. Plan your menu in advance and then make a list to help prevent last-minute shopping for forgotten ingredients. Ask for help with meal prep and cleanup – there’s no reason you have to do it all.
Maintain a budget
Decide how much you can spend on gifts and food before you go shopping. Then stick to your spending plan. Don’t try to buy happiness with countless gifts. Consider the following alternatives:
• make a charitable donation in someone’s honor
• DIY gifts
• start exchanging gifts with your family
• resist spontaneous spending urges
Let go of disagreements
Relationships can be a source of some stress during the holiday period. Accept family and friends as they are, even if they don’t meet all of your expectations. Set aside complaints until a more appropriate time to discuss them. And be patient if others become upset or distressed when something goes wrong. Perhaps they are also feeling the effects of holiday stress.
With the pressure to see our family, we can sometimes miss the chance to spend time with the people who give us life. Make sure you schedule time with your friends – be it a winter walk or a quiet evening together where you can be yourself. Cherish your time at church and your spiritual family during the holiday season. Rely on them for support if family times are tough for you, pray for them and enjoy worshiping with them.
If Christmas is a time of loneliness or isolation for you, look to your community, church, or other social event for comfort and company. Volunteering your time or doing something to help others is another great way to lift your spirits and expand your circle of friends.
Maintain your healthy habits
Don’t let the holidays become free for all. Overindulgence exacerbates your stress and guilt. Consider the following suggestions:
• eat a healthy snack before a holiday meal to avoid overeating sweets, cheeses or drinks
• when you’re not entertained, make yourself a light and nutritious snack
• get enough sleep
• make regular physical activity part of your daily routine
• practice deep breathing
Be aware of how an information culture can be unduly stressful, and adjust the time you spend reading the news and using social media as needed.
Rest for a while
It can be frustrating and overwhelming to say yes and no. Your friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If you can’t say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove another thing from your schedule to make up for lost time.
Take some time for yourself. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Just spending 15 minutes alone, without distractions, can be enough to recharge your batteries. Find something that helps you relax by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing, and restoring inner calm.
He will keep the steadfast of heart in perfect peace, For they trust in Him.
If you need professional support, seek it out
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling sad or anxious all the time, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to cope with your routine. If these feelings persist, consult your doctor or mental health professional.
For more helpful content on how to overcome anxiety and live in God’s peace, why not download the Glorify App?
Stephan H.’s photo on Unsplash
Mario Losereit’s photo on Unsplash
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