Is Stress Interfering With Your Joy This Christmas?

By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse

And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

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Comfort and joy! Gloria in excelsis deo! Peace on earth, good will to all! For every year the Christmas tree, brings to us all both joy and glee! Christ the Savior is born! Joyful, all ye nations, rise! Joy to the world! Wow—Christmas hymns and carols can’t help but bring smiles to our faces and joy to our hearts. It is a season of love, of peace, of giving…but for some people it is also a season of stress, unrealistic expectations, and sadness because of loss. We’ve all heard the saying, “Jesus is the reason for the season” and we embrace that, but yet stress still manages to creep in. According to Cleveland Clinic, when the realities of day-to-day life conflict with our efforts to make the holiday season perfect, stress results. How can we deal with stress that threatens our joy? The following are some tips from Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and “Unplug the Christmas Machine” for dealing with stress during the Christmas season.

  • Tune in to your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s Christmas.
  • Reach out to others. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out others in the community, church, or social groups.
  • Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change, traditions often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to and be open to creating new ones.
  • Set aside differences and let go of negativity. Express gratitude for what you have. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations.
  • Stick to a budget. Sit down and decide what you can safely afford this year—then stick to it. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
  • Plan ahead. Set priorities and let go of impossible goals. Plan specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities.
  • Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
  • Choose to be healthy. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Keep a daily routine, get enough sleep, eat properly, exercise, and laugh more.
  • Give yourself a break. Make time for yourself. Take a bath; listen to holiday music; have a cup of tea, cider, or hot chocolate; cuddle under a warm blanket to read a book or take a nap.
  • Pray. Turn your stress and worries over to the Lord. You are not walking alone.

Wishing you all a joyous Christmas season filled with love, peace, and blessings!

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