Holiday stressors detract from season

Holiday stressors detract from season

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The holidays approach at lightning speed as they do every December. This season of celebrating Thanksgiving, the birth of Jesus, and the possibilities of a fresh, new year is supposed to be the most wonderful time, yet it can be difficult for some. Some holiday stressors are grief, finances, seasonal changes, loneliness, and overloaded schedules.

Grief is a common holiday stressor

Empty places at the table cause raw grief to resurface. Time heals the heart, but one never forgets loved ones.

My Grandma Jeannette died of cancer on December 15, 1979, and although it has been decades, memories still surface this time of year. Currently, I feel sorrow for families I know who face losses this season or who had losses this year. I can think of three families impacted by terminally ill loved ones right now. It’s never easy, but during the holidays, the contrasts seem starker.

Losses of health wear on folks, as well. One might review her life. Another might press on to complete that bucket list, but the time feels more pressing, or the depleted energy just makes it harder. One grieves not being able to do what she used to. If this is you, remember what you can do and don’t dwell on what you can’t. Don’t dwell on the past.

Finances add stress to holidays

Tight finances are another stressor during a time where gifts and giving are a focus. Having less money to spend might make one feel that she is letting people down or that her gifts aren’t as nice as someone else’s. Such lies need to be stomped out. Gifts aren’t the focus on the season. Love is. So don’t concern yourself about spending if finances concern you. Think outside the box. Gifts don’t have to cost money. Perhaps you can offer a service or bless someone with your time with them. Playing board games or cards, watching a movie, baking, or just sharing memories bless those we love, while a toy or knickknack will eventually break or be lost or lose its significance.

Stick to your budget. Christmas isn’t about how much money you spend. Don’t fall into the comparison trap.

Dreary days cause sadness

Being stuck inside depresses some people. If you live in a cold climate like I do, you might miss getting outside. Less sunlight and more cloudy days sometimes make the world appear gray. But I have learned that layering on a lot of clothes and getting outside still energizes me. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy period of time.

Or if you just can’t take the cold, plan something to look forward to like going out with friends for lunch or have them come visit you. You can sip hot cocoa and nibble cookies at the table while you catch up on the news in each other’s lives.

Less activity brings worries

Maybe because you’re less active in the winter, you’re concerned about weight gain. We eat more during the holidays. If this is a point that worries you, bake less, practice portion controls, or just choose fewer foods to taste rather than trying a little of everything. Eating less is really the way to lose weight. If we’re less active, we need to eat less. The problem—at least for me—is I like to eat. During the winter, I walk less, so to incorporate some exercise, I try You Tube workouts or exercise videos or just make up my own plan to move. I walk around the house, lift some free weights, stretch, just get my heart rate up for 30-60 minutes each day. I also try to leave the computer every hour so I don’t get so stiff, but sometimes I don’t realize how much time passed. I’m still working on that one.

Loneliness and overloaded schedules equal stress

Holidays may feel lonely if you think everyone else parties or gathers while you’re home alone. Try reaching out to someone. Often others feel the same way. By calling, writing, texting, or visiting someone, you’ll brighten their day, and in turn, boost your own mood.

A huge stressor is an overloaded schedule. The holidays add activities to our days that aren’t there during the rest of the year. Children in school and extra-curricular activities mean you have programs to attend, gifts to buy for the school exchanges, extra baking to do for school parties. On the other side, taking care of elderly makes you busier because not only do you have your decorating, etc., to do, but you have someone else’s to do too. If you’re exhausted at the end of the day, you have two options. First, you can remember that this period is short in the scheme of things. Or you could say no more to the things that aren’t really necessary.

Keep it simple

The holidays are meant to be a time of happiness with family and friends as we celebrate our Savior’s birth and count our blessings. If December is a hard month for you, remember you’re not alone. I hope these suggestions help. Remember keeping it simple will help.

What do you do to combat the stress of the season?

Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash.

10 Replies to “Holiday stressors detract from season”

  1. Two of my favorite things to do for the Christmas holiday, are sending love and prayers to family and friends through Christmas Cards, and baking special cookies, like date-filled cookies that I make for my husband every year. Not so much because I love making them, but because they are a special treat for him.

    1. I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards and greetings, too. It’s a beautiful way to connect this time of year. I’m sure your family loves the special cookies, Donna. You express your love in many ways through your efforts. God bless you, and Merry Christmas!

  2. Love and prayers to you and your family, too, Michelle. May you enjoy and wonderful Christmas filled with love and laughter.

  3. I struggle my way through December…my daughter has even labeled this month of our birthdays and Christmas as “The Decembers”…and that isn’t in a good way. There is a lot of pressure that society expects and we put on ourselves. As much as I don’t want it to be so complicated, I haven’t figured out a way to uncomplicate it. There are just so many expectations, and as a parent and grandparent, those expectations weigh on me and if I am being honest, I just wait for the “holidays” to be over with. I do talk to God about this, as I know this isn’t what it’s all about, but as a human, I just can’t get past the stress and I’m pretty sure I probably never will.

    1. Expectations are super high, for sure. I struggle with this also, and I have found that simplifying has helped. I list my priorities and understand my limits and start at number one. Sometimes I only get a dent in number one, and the rest doesn’t get done. That sends me into a spiral of stress, but as I keep at it, I notice that it works out. Some stuff isn’t important, and if it doesn’t get done, it often doesn’t get noticed. Talking with my kids about expectations has helped too. I try to merge our expectations if possible and let other things go. I want Jesus to be our focus, so that is my one thing that I won’t budge on. I think if we focus on what God expects, what society expects gets put in its proper place. I think we all work on this, so you aren’t alone. Praying for you Deb. May you feel more peace and joy this year as you uncomplicate your agenda.

  4. I suspect you spoke for nearly all of us, Deb. Still, we all continue to look forward to Christmas and the privilege of celebrating the birthday of our wonderful risen Lord. It’s the least we can do for Him after all He did for us. Yes, Michelle, “May we all feel more peace and joy this year as we (try to) uncomplicate (our) agenda.

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