“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Christmas is intended to be a season filled with peace and hope as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, the true meaning of Christmas is easily overshadowed by all the promotion and commotion around us. We find ourselves preparing time for family, friends and festivities, but the pressure to get everything done can be overwhelming. Bickering relatives, year-end work demands and over-stimulated children, on top of a growing “to-do” list can test our patience and steal our peace.
For many, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years create more opportunities for anxiety to get a foothold than any other time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 7 ideas to help you reduce stress and enjoy the upcoming season.
1. Make “to do” lists with clear priorities and set aside specific times to accomplish important tasks. Because the holidays can be so hectic, make sure you always have a calendar on hand to ensure you don’t over schedule or over book yourself. If you have a personal mission statement, refer to it often during this busy season. It can be a great help when setting boundaries and deciding what to say ‘no’ to.
2. Take good care of yourself. Remember to put YOU on your “to-do” list. Don’t abandon healthy habits or neglect your needs. The temptation to overindulge is heightened this time of year. Be sure to eat healthy, get plenty of rest and exercise. Making wise choices will give you more energy and you’ll feel better.
3. Look for ways to make gift giving easier. Save time and money by shopping online. Avoid the hassle of crowded parking lots and shopping malls. Spending too much time at the mall leads to overspending and unnecessary purchases. If you prefer to support local businesses, consider giving gift cards.
4. Ask for help. So often, we think we have to do it all. Or we feel that we can do it faster and better than anyone else who might help. But it’s more fun to do things together—from decorating the house to wrapping presents. So share both the joy and the work. Consider which holiday tasks you could ask your spouse, relative, friend or even a child to take on.
5. Consider alternatives to family gatherings. If the thought of spending time with dysfunctional relatives has you feeling anxious, consider making alternate plans. Set boundaries. There is nothing wrong with wanting to eat Christmas dinner at another family member’s house this year instead of yours, or declining to host the annual New Year’s Day party. Breaking a long standing tradition will force someone else to take over, if he or she feels strongly about its preservation. Plan well in advance to avoid last-minute surprises.
6. Remember to play a little. Engage in activities that nurture you and kept you connected to the true meaning of Christmas. This season can pass by in a blur of obligations so be sure to schedule time to enjoy loved ones. Make a date to watch a favorite Christmas movie together or sing Christmas carols. Sharing quality time with the people you care about will help you stay connected with the true meaning of the season.
7. Celebrate all that God has done for you. Find a place to be quiet and prayerful, and go there often. Christmas is all about possibility in the midst of the impossible. Not the kind of possibility that comes from our own knowledge, ability or positive mental attitude. It’s the possibility that comes solely from the fact that God is God, and that he chose to come into our own human existence, to reveal himself and call us to himself.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14