My how time flies! In just a short time it will be Christmas, a time when we pray for Peace on Earth. This post is all about tips for holiday stress, so hopefully we can feel some Peace on Earth this holiday season. Some tips are lighthearted and a few are more serious. I hope that these tips will help to lighten your load, warm your heart, and prepare you for something marvelous, the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
P – PLAY. Yes folks, the holidays and the cold wintry season (for some of us) can bring about much situational and seasonal stress. One of the best ways to combat stress is by having fun…by laughing…by playing! You don’t have to be a child to have fun. Smile. Laugh. Get out there and play. And if you have difficulty getting out there to play…you can watch others play. I know that for me, just watching my young grandchildren play brings joy to my heart!
E – EAT HEALTHY. Oh my…did I really just write this? So close to Christmas…and New Years? Yep, I did! I know that this time of year brings about all kinds of holiday cheer…and goodies galore. I know that you have looked forward to those holiday meals. But in between, keep in mind that eating healthy is good for the body and the soul. Too much rich food may not sit well with your body. And if that happens, it may also impact your mood. So, as much as possible, keep your food intake healthy. Perhaps you will want to stock up on some of those delicious fruits that are available this time of year!
A – ART. For some of us, the holidays are not those wonderful, stress-free times that we would love to enjoy. Unfortunately, the holidays can sometimes stir up the holiday blues or feelings of loss or grief. But, take heart, my friends. This may be just the right time for you to consider taking up a new craft, a new project, a new idea. Get involved in something you have always loved to do…or begin something that you’ve always wanted to do. When you put your mind to something you are passionate about, you can help to banish those blues and that holiday stress. What are you waiting for? Get out those paints or knitting needles. Brush the dust off that project that’s been waiting for you in the hall closet. Go have fun!
C – CAROLING. Do you like to sing? Well, this is probably one of the best times of the year to make a joyful noise! When we sing, we are engaging the right side of our brain in meaningful activity. Music can lift your spirits and ease your pain. It has been said that “music can take you places where words cannot.” Music is emotion. Music is release. Music speaks a language unto itself. Are there Christmas carolers you can join in the neighborhood, or perhaps with your church? Or are you more comfortable belting out those favorite Christmas carols at home…perhaps in the shower?? Wherever it is, remember what the Bible says…”Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” (Psalm 98:4 ESV).
E – EXERCISE. Yes indeed. Exercise.
Even during Especially during the holidays, exercise can be helpful to reduce stress, ease pain, and improve your mood. You may not be a “snow bunny” (I know I am most certainly not!), but staying active is a good thing….for mind, body, and soul. So, tap your toes, stretch your legs, and move your body!
E – EMMANUEL. Sometimes we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Everyone is supposed to be happy. There are presents to buy. Presents to wrap. Parties to plan. Parties to host. Food to prepare (again and again and again). Homes to be cleaned. Expectations to be met. People to please. But take a moment, a breath, to remember why we celebrate this holiday. The birth of our Lord, Emmanuel, which translates as “God is with us.” “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'” (Luke 2:8-12 NIV).
A – ANGELS. There’s something beautifully comforting when we think about angels. Angels among us. The angels were there at Jesus’ birth. An angel appeared to the shepherds to bring them this glorious news. But it didn’t end there. It got even better. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'” (Luke 2:13-14 NIV). Peace on earth. Those words bring hope and promise. Rest in this for a bit, my friends. Let it sink in.
R – REST. One of the best tips that I believe I can give during this time of busyness and increased stress is to rest. It seems as if today we are either on “full steam ahead” or “dead in the water.” We are either pushing, pushing forward or sunk in a state of exhaustion. We may think that watching TV or checking our social media counts as real rest, but in fact it doesn’t. It is OK, my friends, to take time out just to sit, rest your body and mind, and do “nothing.” Our bodies (and minds) need this time to rejuvenate. Especially during times of high stress, our bodies and minds are zapped of even more energy. So, please take the time to renew. You’ll be glad you did.
T – THANKFULNESS. Often times, when we are stressed, overloaded, or overwhelmed we have a tendency to focus on negative thoughts. We are quick(er) to complain or argue. We have difficulty seeing beyond the negative influences in our lives. One way to combat this type of thinking is to spend time each day considering what we are thankful for. Gratitude and thankfulness nurture positive thoughts, feelings, and ideas. What (or who) are you thankful for? Think on these things for a while. Allow your heart to embrace those things that are truly good (and positive) in your life.
H – HOPE. And here we are with our last tip for holiday stress. Hope. Hope is one of the most important emotions and beliefs that we can embrace to fight feelings of depression and anger and apathy. But, it’s also important to remember that hope is a choice. A choice that you make to believe that there is something out there worth receiving, worth giving, worth loving, worth living. During this holiday, I am encouraging you to remember that Jesus is our hope. He is a gift given to all of us from God. A gift of hope. So, if you struggle with hope in your life, please remember “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV).
~PEACE ON EARTH~