How to anticipate and relieve holiday stress

While we welcome celebrating with family and friends, those encounters can create emotional tension and strain. When we feel sad that loved ones can’t be with us, either through distance or death, the season can become the worst of the year.

Christmas always seems to come way too soon after Halloween and Thanksgiving, but the viral pandemic of 2020 made us even less ready to plunge into what is typically

“the most wonderful time of the year.” 

The extra work of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, planning and entertaining can make it the least wonderful time.

While we  welcome celebrating with family and friends, those encounters can create emotional tension and strain. When we feel  sad that loved ones can’t be with us, either through distance or death,  the season can become the worst of the year.

By anticipating these events and feelings, we can prepare ourselves for the physical and emotional stress of the holiday season, and find a way to enjoy the festivities with “hearts all a glowing.”

snowflakes making a Christmas tree
These  resources offer  sound advice for confronting  and conquering holiday challenges.

Writer Bruce Y. Lee takes a lighthearted but serious look at the holiday season and suggests music may help us cope better in

 How To Reduce And Deal With Holiday Stress

Twelve Days of Christmas”: Keep perspective and if the Holidays are tough for you, remember that the Holiday season is temporary and will pass. Try not to take yourself and things too seriously. Just make sure you maintain healthy habits and avoid behaviors that will lead to health problems (such as gaining weight) beyond the holiday season.”

colorful wrapped packages

Consider this advice from WebMD before going 

Home for the Holidays 

“Don’t worry about how things should be. Most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings — they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.

a cute snowman

31 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas from Woman’s Day

#23 Know when to say no.

Can’t say no? Then keep your gatherings small and intimate. Get together with a few of your closest friends or relatives for the holidays. Choose to throw the big blowout parties at another time of the year, when you and your guests will have fewer commitments competing for your precious time.”

glowing cancles

 A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide to a Meaningful And Stress-free Christmas (Spirit of Simple Living) 
A Simple Christmas book cover

by Sharon Hanby-Robie

“The secret to a happy holiday is learning to collaborate and to create a plan that is uniquely yours with a goal to experience more serenity, more joy, and more opportunities to nurture the souls of those you love.

But, most important, it is to remember the greatest gift ever given, the gift of the Christ Child. Take time to simply sit and ponder this amazing miracle. “

(an affiliate link provided for your convenience and to help support this blog)

a nativity arrangement of the manger

And in his blog post

Choose Holiday Traditions That Serve You

Joshua Becker reminds us that

“Traditions should draw our attention to the underlying reason for the season.

Traditions should not detract from the season, they should elevate it.”

5 keys to manage holiday stress before it manages you 

  1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and others.
  2. Anticipate stressful situations, places, and people.
  3. Plan and prepare carefully, but stay flexible for the unexpected.
  4. Keep your  health maintenance routine- healthy eating, exercise, adequate sleep.
  5. Remember what is most important about the season-family, friends, faith.

sharing the HEART of Christmas

Thanks to Pixabay for the Christmas photos used in this post.

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Expert advice to conquer holiday stress

Magazine articles, television programs and music playlists tell us that this is

“the most wonderful time of the year.” 

That is until the extra work of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, planning and entertaining makes it the least wonderful time.

a gingerbread house

While most of us welcome the chance to celebrate with family and friends, sometimes those encounters create emotional tension and strain. When we feel  sad that loved ones can’t be with us, either through distance or death,  the season can become the worst of the year.

By anticipating these events and feelings, we can prepare ourselves for the physical and emotional stress of the holiday season, and find a way to enjoy the festivities with “hearts glowing.”

Here are links to  and brief quotes from some resources with sound advice for confronting  and conquering holiday challenges.

Plan. Make your list and check it twice. Being prepared for parties and presents and having help from family and friends can reduce last-minute stress.

red and gold Christmas tree bulbs

6 tips for staying happy and healthy  from Mayo Clinic

Over-the-top holiday excursions can be stressful, which is not how you should be spending this joyful season. Focus on your holiday traditions — don’t worry about the rest. Make time for friends, family and good cheer, and embrace relaxation when you can. Don’t neglect the value of sleep, either. Do all that you can to stick to a normal sleep schedule even around all the celebrations and traveling. Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, daytime napping and large meals before bed. These factors can interfere with a good night’s rest.

a decorative snowman figure

The “No Bullish” Guide to Getting Through the Holidays from Freud and Fashion

Set boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.  If you’re a “Yes Man/Woman” (someone who always says “yes” and has a hard time saying “no”), then you not only have to deal with the stress of planning for the holiday, but also the overwhelming pressure to please everyone since you’re the reliable person whom everyone depends on (or the schmuck whom everyone takes advantage of), which leads to internal feelings of guilt, exhaustion, anger, and resentment if you can’t carry out all the duties expected of you, but then blame everyone else for not helping you (you probably also don’t feel comfortable asking for or accepting help, right?)

decorative wrapped packages

11 Holiday Shopping Tips  from Bank of America

Don’t shop ’til you drop
Sticking to your shopping list can help you avoid going off on a spree. It’s also smart to take a break between buys. Yale University researchers have found that making a purchase can trigger what they call the “shopping momentum effect”—a psychological impulse to buy subsequent items. To counteract the effect, just walk away from the store or computer screen for a few minutes. And no window-shopping on your way out.

Dealing With Grief  from AARP

Accept your feelings — whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren’t up for enjoying a holiday; others feel guilt because they are feeling joy. However you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs: You may feel peaceful one moment and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.

Enjoy “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Eddie Pola and George Wyle.
Arranged by Hawley Ades
Cantare Children’s Choir: Catherine Glaser-Climie
Ron Bennie, Accompanist

Photos used in this post -compliments of the photographers at Pixabay 

Related post- tips for healthy holiday eating

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sharing the HEART of the holidays

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

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