It is that time of the year again when the days are shorter the temperatures are dropping and our stress is through the roof, it’s December! We can all admit it there is just something about the month of December that brings us so much joy and so much stress. As a child, December was one of my favorite months of the year, between the break from school, time with family, gifts on Christmas morning, and lots of yummy food I looked forward to it the whole year. But with age came responsibility and for me, that brought stress to the season that should be filled with joy.
It is my belief that I am not the only one who feels this way. I have found that it is much more widespread than just me, trust me… I work at Hobby Lobby and have seen a few things this season already. There has also been a lot of research done about this occurrence and its effects on us. One study in particular done by the American Psychological Association showed that although a majority of people surveyed reported feelings of happiness, love, and high spirits over the holidays, those emotions when often accompanied by feelings of tiredness, stress, irritability, and sadness. Sound about right to me! I love the holiday season but between the gift getting, travel, back and forth from house to house, and seeing family I haven’t seen all year it can be quite overwhelming and a mix of joy and stress.
For the purpose of this post, I don't want to take a diving deep into how to solve the holiday stress that we all feel yearly, I just want to give a few tips and tricks in hopes that it will help relieve some of the stress and get back to the happiness and joy of the season.
Step away and get some fresh air. When the feelings of stress began to onset and you feel your blood pressure rising it might be time for you to step away and gather your emotions. That could be just stepping out of the room, or even stepping out of the building. For me, I find a lot of joy and peace in nature so when I began to get overwhelmed it helps to step outside and take a few deep breaths.
Stop trying to make everything perfect. Although everyone wants to give off the image that their Christmas is perfect is it just not a reality. No one has a perfect holiday, for many of us, it looks a lot more like a Jelly of the Month Club Certificate than a large holiday bonus. It is okay if the gifts are not perfectly wrapped, our Christmas card picture doesn’t look like our family belongs in a magazine, and our house is not the most decorated house on the block. The season is about Jesus coming into the world not about gift.
Give grace when others seem to be agitated. Just as you are feeling the stress and anxiety of the season it is very likely that others are as well. Keep that in mind and give others grace and comfort in their holiday struggles. When things start getting heated choose comfort over criticism.
The perfect present does exist but it was given to us when Jesus entered the world and saved us from our sins. Although giving gift and seeing the joy on someones face when they open their gift is a great feeling that is not what the season is about. Christmas has nothing to do with the gifts we give and receive. The greatest gift was given to us when Jesus was born and entered into the world, because of that gift we have the presence of God in our lives.
Remind yourself that the holiday is not about you or the satisfaction of others. Christmas can very easily become all about ourselves or all about satisfying others. It is important to find the happy medium and focus on remembering the true meaning of the season. There is no reason to over extend ourselves in order to please ourselves or other.
Set boundaries and keep them. For some people it is hard for you to be around certain people during the season. If thas is true for you, I encourage you to set limits for yourself. Your physical and mental health is the most important thing. This can also include not overindulging in food, drink, and fun during the season.
Plan something that you can look forward to and that will makes you happy. Create a family tradition or just set some time aside to do something that will make you happy and not cause stress. For example; A nice hot bath on Christmas Eve, a special Christmas dessert, or maybe just an early morning coffee with God.
If you take anything from this post please let it be that the holiday blues are a very common thing and are nothing to be ashamed of. We all experience them in some way and we can all help each other through it. My prayer is that this holiday season your time will be filled more with happy memories and joy and less with the busy and stressful hustle and bustle.