(Courtesy of Richmond Community Church)
Christmas can be a very stressful time. It is a frenzied season full of expectations and obligations. Decorations need to be put up, baking has to be done, presents have to be purchased and relatives must be visited. It is quite possible that in a season where you should experience peace and joy you may miss out on all of it. Here are ten steps you can take to manage your stress this Christmas season.
1. Establish Your Priorities
This is the time when we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. Whatever else may beckon for your attention the most important thing is the spiritual. Luke 2:10-11 tells us, "But the angel said, 'Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.'" Because of Jesus our imperfection can be replaced with Christ's perfection, we can be forgiven and begin a relationship with God. We can know inner peace, joy greater than mere happiness and learn to love others as Christ loves us. We can have hope knowing God has a purpose and plan for our lives. All of this is because Jesus was born.
2. Have Realistic Expectations
We all want the season to be filled with happiness but the reality is that may not be possible. There are factors beyond our control that can negatively impact any Christmas celebration. Job loss, health issues, family problems do not disappear because it is Christmas. Be prepared that things may not turn out exactly the way you want or expect.
3. Keep Spending Under Control
Establishing a budget for Christmas is crucial to managing stress. Knowing how much you can afford and sticking to your budget will make your holiday a whole lot better. Spend only what you have saved for buying presents and avoid using credit cards. In the end Christmas is about relationships and memories not material things.
4. Guard Against Perfectionism
Even people who are not perfectionists can get wrapped up in wanting everything to be perfect at Christmas. Much like a wedding, if you are not careful you can get so stressed out over every detail that you miss out on enjoying the celebration. Striving for perfection in your gift giving, decorations and events can leave you frustrated and exhausted.
5. Ask For Help
If you feel overwhelmed with all that you have to do ask others to help you. Being a martyr will not make your holiday better. Let the people who care about you know that your stress level is too high and ask for their assistance to get everything done.
6. Practice Moderation In Activities
You simply cannot attend every party or event. You need to say "no" to those activities that you can't fit into your schedule. There must be enough time for relaxation and rest. Don't overdo anything (even the good stuff) and realize that you can't do everything.
7. Maintain Your Perspective
The reality is that the Christmas season lasts a fairly short time and then life returns to normal. The extra stress you are experiencing is not unending and will pass sooner than you realize. Certain challenging situations brought on by family or finances will only be for this brief season and then life returns to normal.
8. Continue Healthy Habits
Your schedule can get pretty jumbled during the holidays. It is easy to let certain positive habits slip away. Exercising is a proven stress reducer and should be done consistently throughout the Christmas season. Getting enough sleep is crucial to looking and feeling your best. As tempting as it is, don't overdue it with too much eating or drinking.
9. Have Some Fun
Make sure to have time for the things you truly enjoy at Christmas. Do the fun stuff this season provides. Whether that is a favorite holiday movie, special tree lighting, feeding the homeless or trip to the city those activities should be highlights of your Christmas season.
10. Remember The Reason
After all the parties, shopping and events Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. His teachings and His example are what we should follow. Showing God's love to others, serving those in need and giving gifts is what Christmas really is. Wrap up your Christmas season at a Christmas Eve service and you will truly experience a less stress Christmas.