Three Tips to Eliminate Holiday Stress
If you’re anything like me, the holiday season brings a myriad of emotions. On the one hand, the holidays bring so much joy as we gather to celebrate with the ones dearest to us. On the other hand, the holidays can bring stress, with so much to accomplish and attend to in a limited amount of time.
In the hopes of helping you maximize enjoyment and eliminate holiday stress, here are three specific actions I have found help me to have a wonderful holiday season:
Stop. In this busy time, setting aside time for yourself can feel selfish or at least unproductive. However, taking some time, even a mere five minutes, to stop and calmly reflect is critical for stress management. Whether you choose a few moments in the early hours of the morning, part of your lunch break at work, or your last waking moments before bed, it is important to plan a specific time for this to occur. Without a plan, this time may easily disappear in the requirements of the day. Personally, I like to have this time right before bed. After a long and busy day my mind is racing with everything I have faced or need to face. Taking 10 minutes to reflect allows my heart and mind to slow down and find enough rest to peacefully go to sleep. How you choose to spend this time is also important to plan. Maybe you like to journal, spend the time in prayer, read the Psalms, or sing some hymns. Whatever you choose, planning how you will spend your time can keep your mind from wandering back to the to-do list.
Remember the Goal. With busyness crowding your days, it is easy to become overwhelmed. I find that reminding myself of both my at-hand goal and my ultimate goal is necessary for some clarity. For example, as I write out my grocery list and head out to the market, my body gears into automatic as I drive the well-known road, and my mind begins to wander to everything else I need to accomplish: I still haven’t bought my parents a gift, I need to ship out that book for my brother-in-law’s birthday, I need to decide on driving arrangements for tomorrow’s trip, and I should call my sister to find out what time she expects us to arrive on New Year’s Eve. There is a lot to do. At these moments I need to reign in my mind and remember first what my at-hand goal is. The goal at-hand is to make it to the market and buy everything on my grocery list. Good. Now, what is the ultimate goal of this trip? Ultimately my goal is to provide a holiday meal for my family that will not only nourish their bodies, but also create space to nourish their souls as we celebrate the presence of our Savior in our lives. These two-step reminders for any task are an extremely important piece to my own inner peace.
Give Thanks. One thing I often feel during the holidays is how much I give. I give to my family by providing a home for them. I give to my family and friends by choosing the perfect gifts for them. I give to my church by participating in holiday services. These acts of giving can bring so much joy to my heart, but if I am not careful they can bring bitterness as well. When I am exhausted and stressed from last minute preparations, I fall into selfishness, thinking that I am the only one giving. In those moments it is so important for me to remember to give thanks. I need to thank my family for loving me so well. They have also thoughtfully considered ways to bring me gifts. They have also thoughtfully served each other and me by helping out around the house. They have brought my heart so much joy by simply giving hugs and sharing laughter. They have given me much to be thankful for.
Finally, and most importantly, giving thanks to God helps me to eliminate holiday stress. He has given me the ultimate Gift. He gave me absolutely everything in the most precious One, His Son. He has given me peace because He is my peace. He has given me joy because He is my joy. He has given me hope because He is my hope. He has given me love because He is love. In the giving of His Son, He has given me Himself.
No matter our struggles, no matter our busyness, no matter our stress, we can have a wonderful holiday season and eliminate holiday stress by thanking God. He has given us Himself.