10 proven ways to reduce stress over the holidays


Keep it simple. Real simple. Activities, menus, shopping, traditions, decorating. Expensive or elaborate is not better.

Take time in the next day or so to sit down with pen, paper, and calendar. Keeping in mind your time, energy, and finances, realistically plan your tasks and activities, so that they don’t control you. Regular time with the Lord is of utmost importance, yet is often the first thing to go. Make it a priority for you and your family. Allot time for yourself, too, and for those people that bring you joy!

Sugar-laden, fat-filled foods beckon! Allow yourself a very small helping, and then get back to eating sensibly, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly. Get outside! Walk in the snow. Go ice skating or cross-country skiing.

You don’t have to do it all. Be surprised at what your spouse, children, or nieces and nephews can do! Let them help wrap gifts, decorate the tree, or bake the cookies. They can address and stamp Christmas cards or lend a hand with household chores. This is not a time for perfection – it’s a time for joy!

5. SAY “NO!”
You don’t have to attend every event. Your children don’t have to be out every night of the week. Give yourself permission to stay home!

Make a complete list before you venture out. Go by yourself, so you’re not distracted. Shop early, wearing good walking shoes and loose clothing. Be sure and stop for a healthy lunch along the way. Gift cards save lots of time when shopping for picky teens. Gift certificates for restaurants are a treat for recipients on a tight budget. Utilize the internet and catalogs. If you’re home during the day, home-baked goodies or hand-crafted items are a real treat for those who work outside the home. Is there someone on your list who has everything? Check out Samaritan’s Purse. They offer a beautiful gift catalog that allows you to provide urgently needed necessities to those who have little, in honor of the recipient.

To ward off the propensity for greed, encourage your children to make a list of what they want to give to others instead of what they want for themselves. Assist them with their gifts – a plate of cookies that they bake and decorate, a framed hand-crafted drawing, coupons to shovel snow, babysit, walk the dog, or clean the house. Participate with them in toy, food, or clothing drives that emphasize giving to others.

No, you don’t need to put out every Christmas decoration you have. This year, only choose to display and use the things you really take pleasure in. A simple candle in each window and a beautiful wreath on the door goes a long way.

You are most likely surrounded by people who find the holidays difficult – the elderly, the handicapped, those who are grieving, people away from their families. An invitation for a simple home-cooked meal is a tremendous blessing to both the giver and receiver. Or show Christ’s graciousness at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or home for abused women.

Christmas caroling in the neighborhood. A birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve. Attending holiday services as a family. Reading of the Christmas story in Luke before opening gifts. Three gifts under the tree for each person, honoring the three wise men, instead of piles of unappreciated, expensive presents. Taking turns sharing what you’re most thankful for during Christmas dinner. Using the Christmas cards you’ve received, praying for one family each day.

Copyright, 2002. All rights reserved.
Linda R. Stoll, M.S., C.L.C.
(Used with permission. Thanks, Linda!)

Linda is a personal friend of mine with a deep heart for developing people both spiritually and emotionally. Her e-zine provides a unique intermingling of the worlds of life coaching, pastoral counseling, and spiritual direction. It is an ideal toolbox for coaches, ministry leaders, people helpers – and people at “a crossroads” in life. Sign up for her Crossroads Journal by sending an e-mail to:

[tags]holidays, Christmas, stress[/tags]

Posted on November 8, 2006

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