So, I’m stating the obvious here. It’s that time of year- you know. It’s that most wonderful time of year that as a Christ-follower, I anticipate with great joy. It’s Christmas time.
Let’s be real though. This season can be as joyful and magical as it can be stressful. I know. Believe me. You know what? We are not alone in thinking that.
Listen to this.
According to a study conducted by Healthline in 2015, 62% of people surveyed said that their stress level was “very or somewhat elevated” during the holiday season. Only ten percent of all the people in the survey said they didn’t feel any increased stress at all. Um, that’s not a lot!
Ellen Braaten, PhD and HMS Associate Director of its Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, explains that the holiday stress is a special kind of stress. She suggests special kinds of “cognitive strategies” to help us adapt in the holiday season. It’s harder to shift attention between one thing and the other.
Some of the stresses that appeared on this list in the survey were:
Family dynamics, and
The difficulty of keeping up with healthy habits.
Now, maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas. If not, you may still find yourself caught up in the whirlwind of it, if for no other reason, to accommodate your loved ones in their busy times.
During the stressful holiday season, there are events to plan, visits to schedule – and gifts to buy. There are always long lines at the store, short tempers on the road and in airports, train and bus stations. If you’re dieting – or attempting to have any sort of healthy routines, this is the time of year they get derailed. At least for a while! Is it any wonder that we start suffering from stress symptoms?
Stress symptoms can be anything from those “minor” things to scarier things like heart palpitations, sleeplessness, major anxiety. These are all signs of stress and I know I’ve had them. Sometimes they sneak up on me. Sometimes I walk right into it. I fall into the trap of “powering through” when I already feel exhausted, run down and just…done.
Those seemingly minor signs of stress suddenly snowball and then it’s a full blown flu or a cold that just won’t quit. Can you relate to any of this? I thought maybe you may be able to!
As a parent, all of the scheduling and visiting stressors can’t be matched against the stress of getting the kids something special. Something they’ve been wishing and hoping to get for Christmas. I guess this is part of the “financial demands” people referred to in that 2015 survey. I don’t know about you about the pressure and the stress of trying to please, so as not to disappoint them – or anyone else, is a bit much at times! Then there’s the rest of the family, the extended family – and the friends we want to buy for. The list always seems to outnumber the resources and the budget, does it not?
So what is a person to do?
What do I do when I’d rather deck someONE in the check out line, versus deck the “halls?” lol
How do I achieve a balance so I’m not killing myself with deadlines and chores and oh my…
If I’m honest -and of course I’m going to be, I don’t have a strategy in place for managing the stress and I do end up suffering from stress symptoms at times. As you already know quite well, I am human. So I will start by saying, please feel free and let me know how you’re managing so far! Maybe we can help each other out!
Secondly, I will say that for Christ followers we have to keep bringing it back to what this season is really all about- and more importantly who it’s about. It’s about Him. It’s about a gift so generous I couldn’t possibly earn it in a million life times of do-overs. It’s about hope for the future and the gift of His presence in the here and now. It’s about a love that far outweighs every ugly thing that I could ever say or do. Christmas isn’t just about visiting with loved ones. It’s about the One who loved me – and you enough to visit this planet, dressed in humanity so that He could gift us with all of this Goodness that we would never be able to dream possible. He is indeed, the giver of all good and perfect gifts and when I’m about ready to lose my mind with stress – any time of the year, it gives me hope and so much strength to know that I do not walk this life alone. None of what happens to me or my family is ever outside His loving reach. I don’t know about you but in all the chaos life can throw at me sometimes, this is my anchor.
Whether it’s December or March, Christmas or the middle of May, Jesus is the gift that I most need and most appreciate because He’s the reason that I have anything at all. I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’m sure there are more curve balls to come, but because of Christmas and the gift of it, I know that Jesus goes with me.
So I tether myself (or need to!) to this simple but crucial truth. The truth about what the holidays (Christmas in this instance), is and isn’t really all about. Secondly, I rely on my essential oil blends. Stress Away, lavender and of course Christmas Joy. I also blend up my own mixes. I have the diffuser going, I slather it on myself, I drop it in my water, flavor my foods. I get it in me however I can! It all helps! I’ m sure the people in the checkout lines would be so grateful if they only knew how much it helps! lol
In conclusion, friends, I just want to wish you a very Merry, hope and joy filled Christmas. I pray the joys outweigh the stresses. I hope you “tear” into the greatest Gift of all and make happy memories with your family and friends. Lastly, thank you for the gift of you!