Even with the joy of Christmas, most of us have experienced stress that comes along with this season of the year. The Christmas song says, “‘Tis the season to be jolly.” But it’s also a season where we put a lot of unnecessary stresses onto our lives. This can make us anything but “jolly”. The first Christmas may have had a “Silent Night” but many people don’t see enough of them during these days of Christmas giving and “cheer.” That’s why we’re addressing the issue of calming those holiday tensions.
Unfortunately, we’re told by psychologists that holiday seasons hold the most stressful times for most people. This is because of unmet expectations, and unforeseeable tragedies. Plus there’s the strain of having people come together who probably shouldn’t be together. What a sad testimony for a season that should be filled with celebration in honor of the birth of our savior Jesus Christ!
That’s why we want to help you calm things down a bit. Below, we have gathered a number of “calming” tips from various resources. Please pray, read, and see what you can apply this Christmas holiday. And then carry it beyond into the new year.
Calming Those Holiday Tensions
• “Speak your love in words. The best gift you can give is for a person to hear their value and worth from your lips. One year, all our sons were struggling college students, so instead of spending money on a gift for me I asked them to give me words that would make me cry. Each read a tribute letter, and my husband had them framed and they hang in my office to this day.” (Pam and Bill Farrel, from the Crosswalk.com article, “Top 10 Holiday Relationship Tips”)
• “Move Beyond Bah Humbug. Christmas cheer only lasts a few weeks. But the joy that comes from knowing Christ should last year-round. The next time you hear yourself grumbling about something, apologize to God for breaking His commandment: ‘Do everything without grumbling and arguing‘ (Philippians 2:14). Then apologize to the one you offended. Apologizing for our failures is one of the fastest ways to get rid of a negative attitude. If you replace grumbling with gratitude, you will lay the foundation for a wonderful new year.” (Gary Chapman, from the Lifeway.com article, “3 Ways to Keep the Peace in Your Marriage this Christmas”)
• “Play Music of Christmas Past. Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, my wife and I play Christmas music after the kids go to bed. We even listen to the same Christmas CDs from when we were first married. We’ve found that this music helps us realize how much God has changed us throughout the years. Plus we see how blessed we are. The Christmas music even gives us an opportunity to reminisce about childhood Christmases before we’d even met. (John from Colorado, in the Focus on the Family article, “Meaningful Christmas Traditions for Couples”)
Also, Despite Holiday Tensions:
• “Set differences aside. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. With stress and activity levels high, the holidays might not be conducive to making quality time for relationships. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress, too.” (Nancy Williams, from the CBN.com article, “Holiday Stress Survival Guide”)
• Sneak away together. “If your house is full or you are staying with other people, plan for the two of you to spend some quality time together as often as possible. That might be with ‘an early night’, or a stroll to the park. It could be a midnight feast, an early morning start, or any other way to ‘escape’ children, family and/or friends (however much you love them!). It’ll help to ‘anchor’ you and your relationship. Plus it gives you time to discuss and problem-solve any potential issues.” (Elly Prior, from the Internet article, “18 Expert relationship tips for a Happy Christmas”)
• “Infuse Laughter into your Christmas holiday. “According to researchers, laughter could be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to coping with life’s stresses. It’s been proven that laughter: – Relaxes muscles. – It lowers blood pressure – And it eases mental tension. – It also reduces levels of hormones that trigger the stress responses and suppress immunity. Laughing releases endorphins, the same stress-reducers triggered by exercise. Laughter is beneficial for improving one’s perspective on life.” (Detroit News and Free Press, April 22, 2001)
• When you are feeling stress because of holiday tensions, remember we’re told:
“Be anxious for nothing. But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
It will take intentionality to drop our anxious feelings, but it is possible. We must then focus on the Lord, and we are promised His peace.
• “Finally, prepare with blessing. No matter how you find your situation, consider how you have been blessed. The Lord is good to us all: “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15) (Dr. David B. Hawkins, from the Crosswalk.com article, “How to Have the Best Christmas Ever with Your Spouse”)
Let’s focus on celebrating the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, instead of focusing on the offensive behavior of others. Strive to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.
As we’re told in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy. Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Our hope is that you find a way to make peace with those around you TO THE GLORY OF GOD! What a wonderful gift to give in honor of Jesus Christ! It’s also a great gift to those He has placed within your influence. May there be peace in your little section of the world –your home!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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