Decreasing the Dreaded Holiday Stress

Have you in the past felt that you just could not cope with anymore holiday stress? Does the thought of the approaching holidays send cold chills down your spine? Every year just after Halloween, people start acting strange, and this can often be attributed to the realization of the impending holiday stress. The holidays are supposed to be a season of happiness and joy, but sadly they become days of stress, worry and anxiety. The holidays can seem to be a time for increased anxiety, which in turn decreases your ability to enjoy their true meaning.

God has given us 24 hours in a day. However, He never intended for us to fill every one of those hours with something to do, especially during the holiday season. So here are a few ways to lighten the load during this time of year:

You don’t have to do everything
How many times will you change your schedule to accommodate one more party or make one more trip to the store? There is no other time in the year that we try to fit in as many activity as during the holidays. You have heard the expression, “I am killing myself to get all of this done”. Well, when we rush to accomplish so much and fret about every small detail, we are in fact slowly and thankfully for only a brief time killing ourselves. With the increased stress we create for our self during this time of year, there is an increase in our blood pressure, respiration rates go up and our anxiety level responds accordingly when we do too much. The world will not end if you skip a Christmas party, buy fewer gifts, or don’t make that special holiday dish everyone loves so much.

PPPPP (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance)
If we want to decrease our holiday stress levels plan ahead and prepare early. If we put off or fail to prepare for events we are hurting ourselves because this will increase stress and anxiety. Instead of waiting until the day after Thanksgiving, or Christmas Eve, to start shopping, start right now. If the opportunity arises for you to pick up things ahead of time or begin wrapping or preparing early take advantage of it and it will give you more time to enjoy the holidays when they are here.

Take a deep breath…or two
One of the greatest stress producers during the holiday season is forcing ourselves to speed through enjoyable times to push on to the next event, thus not allowing ourselves to truly enjoy what we are doing. Embrace the event you are a part of, allow yourself to experience what it has to offer and enjoy those you are with. When feeling rushed, take a moment for yourself and refocus on what it is that is really important. As you are shopping, wrapping gifts or taking part in a host of other activities, enjoy a much deserved break and do something relaxing, like drinking some hot chocolate, laughing with those who are around you or listening to some holiday music.

Focus on what is really important
Some of the things that we put at the top of our “to do” list really do not matter as much as we think they do. Take a few moments to set your priorities beforehand, and make sure they are really priorities. You can make multiple lists in this regard, one for events, activities, purchases, and whatever you find is mounting in your mind with regards to the holidays. Anxiety tends to rise the most when our priorities out of line with where they should really be. Make sure the right things are at the top, and do what truly matters, even if it means pushing something off the list.

Remember why we are celebrating
Our stress rises when we get so busy doing things that we forget why and what we are celebrating. Thanksgiving needs to be a time of reflection on what God has given to us, and a time to count your blessings. Christmas should be a time of celebration for what God has done for us and a rejoicing for the family and friends He has given to us. Remember why you celebrate and what is truly important during this holiday season and if you can do that you will enjoy the season so much more!

Take Care and God Bless You,
Pastor Jason Phillips
Counselor, Royal Palm Christian Counseling

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