It’s no secret that the most wonderful time of the year can turn even the jolliest of us into the Grinch. While Christmas should be a joyful celebration (a Savior has been born who is Christ the Lord!), all the preparation and traditions can sneakily shift our eyes away from the true meaning of Christmas, leaving our homes filled with unwelcome tension and stress.
Want to be smiling when you sing the famous lyrics, “There’s no place like home for the holidays?” Here are five ways to help you and your family avoid holiday stress and to stay merry and bright this Christmas!
1. REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
I know… it’s a cliché answer, but it’s worthy of mention. Nothing is better than Jesus, but if you’re like us, the many things on our to-do lists can quickly take center stage. Here are three questions to help you keep Jesus as the center of your celebrations:
- What is the theme of my Christmas celebrations?
- What is the purpose of our celebrations?
- What needs to be done to fulfill this purpose?
– Our theme is Jesus. All things point to Him.
– The purpose is to remember the prophecy of the Messiah fulfilled, to teach our children the importance of celebrating this great historical event and to spend time recalling God’s faithfulness to keeping His promises.
– We intend to fulfill this purpose by gifting as a way of celebrating the gift of Jesus, feasting in celebration of the Messiah, doing a daily advent devotional or read Scriptures pertaining to Jesus’ birth, and filling our home with songs of worship and praise.
Your family may answer differently, but whatever you answer, these questions will help you keep your to-do’s from taking over!
2. EAT WELL, SLEEP WELL, EXERCISE
It’s no secret that the average American gains weight over the holidays, but the whole truth is that all those cookies and treats are also no good for stress! Instead, fill your plate with fermented foods, foods high in vitamin C, and foods that can reduce cortisol levels such as grapefruits, bananas, and yes, even dark chocolate!
The American Psychiatric Association reports that sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment, and mood. Don’t let that to-do list keep you up at night! Getting the right amount of sleep, seven to nine hours a night, will help you be efficient in those waking hours.
Exercise. Even a 20-minute brisk walk each day can have a significant impact on your stress levels and curb anxiety! Take the time to fit it in, and if you can’t, know that even 10 minutes of intentional movement can start to reduce anxiety symptoms.
It’s been said many times, many ways, that money is a leading cause of marital troubles. So, it’s no surprise that it can also be a great source of tension during the gift-giving season!
Take some time to write your list of extra expenses and review them with your spouse. Pray about your spending. Decide together what purchases you’ll make. Don’t forget to include the extra foods, party supplies, and dining out expenses in your budget plans.
4. DON’T BE A SLAVE TO TRADITIONS
While we love traditions — looking at lights, building gingerbread houses, baking dozens and dozens of cookies from scratch, and so much more — they can be exhausting.
If you’re feeling great and can do it all again this year, do it! But if your holiday cheer is being depleted by the expectations of each year, go back to my first tip, and choose a few that fit your theme and purpose!
5. EXPECT A LITTLE STRESS
It’s a busier time of the year. Celebrations don’t come without a little extra grit. The first Christmas wasn’t even stress-free. I mean, would you want to ride on a donkey several months pregnant? If you’re experiencing a little stress, you’re not alone. Don’t allow self-care culture to make you feel guilty about putting some hard work in to your home and family and even celebrating Jesus!
This season does require a little planning, work, and fun! Instead of focusing on ridding yourself of all the stress, take some deep breaths and decide to enjoy it! Think of the stress Mary faced as she carried Jesus — unwed, young, with many unplanned (by her) circumstances. And yet, Luke 2:19 tells us that Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. While the holidays are busy and can add tension to our homes, we encourage you to treasure up the happenings of Jesus’ birth in your heart this season.
At Life’s Choices, our prayer for you is this: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13
And may your Christmas days be merry & bright!