Christmas will be here in a few weeks. Are you feeling stressed out yet? Thankfully, Steve and I have learned to cut out a lot of things that added more tension than they’re worth. Somehow it seems to defeat the purpose of celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace when we crowd this great event with that, which causes unnecessary stress. So we’ve been working on trying to line our lives up with what we say we believe. If we SAY we believe it, then we need to live our lives accordingly. It’s important that we de-stress our lives and are de-stressing Christmas.
With that in mind we’d like to share several tips from different sources on how we can cut the tension. We want to invite the Prince of Peace into our lives and into our homes. After all, isn’t the Christmas holiday proposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year?” Actually it isn’t for too many people. But we hope the tips we gathered and share below will help in some way.
So, please prayerfully read, and see if you can apply some of these de-stressing tips. Hopefully, you will be pleasantly surprised with the result.
De-stressing Christmas Tips:
• First, put it all into perspective: “First and foremost, Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ. When we lose sight of that and begin focusing on our family get-togethers and the obligations of smiling and hugging people with whom we hold grudges, we take our eyes off of Christ.
“Like Peter stepping out onto the water, it is important for us to remember through the entire Christmas season that this is really all about the birth of our Savior; it really isn’t about us!
“When we remember that Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Christ, we are able to more clearly see others through His eyes. This means that we aren’t as likely to see the hurt in our relationships but the way that Christ loves that person who has hurt or harmed us.” (Cheryl Dickow, from the Catholicnewsagency.com article, “De-stressing the Christmas Season”)
• “Put your marriage and family first. It’s hard to take care of each other when you’re worried about disappointing loved ones. But if both sets of grandparents plan simultaneous celebrations, someone’s got to be disappointed. Don’t sacrifice your spouse’s needs. Decide together what you want to happen in December. Maybe you should say no to your uncle’s annual trip so you can skate with your own kids.” (James and Heather Sells, from the Today’s Christian Woman article, “Peace on Earth —and at Your House, Too …How to beat the stress of the season”)
From the Practical Side:
• “Say what you expect. As holiday tensions increase, so do conflicts. As you get more tired, the more you expect your spouse to pick up the slack. When these unfair expectations don’t get met, you both feel resentful. So expectations should be stated, collaborated and related. ‘Stating’ means discussing roles and responsibilities for each person. “Collaborating” is working together to resolve differences. ‘Relating’ is honoring your relationship in all your actions.” (James and Heather Sells, from the Today’s Christian Woman article, “Peace on Earth —and at Your House, Too”)
• “Share the load. Holiday preparations tend to fall on one person’s shoulders —which isn’t good for either spouse. The one with the heavy workload feels resentful; the other partner feels useless and disconnected. Seek a balance of duties and agree on priorities before the rush begins. To create a balance, let some duties go and mix up other chores.” (James and Heather Sells, from the Today’s Christian Woman article, “Peace on Earth —and at Your House, Too”)
• “Take a break: At a family gathering, don’t wait until you’re so frustrated that you engage in a verbal conflict. If things start grating on your nerves, take a break and step away from the situation. A walk outdoors or a quick jaunt to the store can give you the breathing space you need to calm down before things get out of control.” (From the Focus on the Family – Canada article, “De-stressing Christmas: 11 Tips for Handling Common Holiday Tensions for Couples”)
In De-stressing Christmas:
• “Look inward and upward: Sometimes, it’s not the in-laws who are grumpy and disagreeable. You may not be able to change them, but you can change yourself and your personal reaction to situations. Pray and meditate on God’s Word and ask for discernment, patience and wisdom.” (From the Focus on the Family – Canada article, “De-stressing Christmas: 11 Tips for Handling Common Holiday Tensions for Couples”)
• “Enjoy the journey: In many church communities, the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the Advent season. Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The entire season is one of preparing.” (Brenda Spandrio, from the Thedeclutterlady.com article, “Tips for Destressing Holiday Decorating and Preparation)
• “Take a mistletoe moment: Physical affection has been shown to increase your body’s levels of oxytocin and dopamine, hormones that reduce stress, so grab your honey and start smooching. Even if you’re not feeling frisky, try cuddling for a while; simply touching hands can make the stress hormone cortisol melt away. ‘When we have strong relationships, we are buffered against the effects of stress,’ says Kory Floyd, PhD, professor of health and family communication at Arizona State University. ‘It doesn’t mean we don’t have stress, but we tend not to overreact.'” (Melody Warnick, from the Womansday.com article, “12 Ways to Destress During the Holidays—In 15 Minutes or Less”)
• Keep in mind the best gift you can give. A loving relationship is the best gift. So make decisions that nurture your marriage and reduce tension. What’s the gift we want most? A marriage that reflects the beauty and sacrifice of God’s gift to humankind. (James and Heather Sells, from the Today’s Christian Woman article, “Peace on Earth —and at Your House, Too”)
• “Challenge yourself. Putting yourself in a position of fresh dependence on the Lord will re-energize your Christmas experience. Challenge yourself to grow, to change, to a greater level of service, or to give more, and so forth. Don’t set yourself up for failure, but make it challenging enough that it really takes faith and trust. And be sure to revel in what God has already done. That’s enough. I don’t want to stress you out. (Neal, from the Hopechapelsterling.com article, “De-Stressing Christmas”)
We totally agree with Neal. We don’t want to stress you out by giving you more tips than you have the time to read.
In closing, we will end with a prayer written by Mary Southerland. It comes from the Crosswalk.com article, “De-Stressing the Holidays”:
“Father, I want this holiday season to one that is filled with light instead of darkness. Please help me discard my emotional masks and be real before You as well as with my family and friends. Give me the courage to be obedient to You in every holiday setting. Give me eyes to see and help those who are in need. Prepare and enable me to make this holiday season an offering of praise to You. In Jesus’ Name… Amen.”
May the Lord help you to celebrate Christ, throughout the Christmas holidays and beyond.
Cindy and Steve Wright
To Help a Bit More:
Here’s another article that not only applies to newlyweds, but the principles can be used by everyone who is married:
• 10 Tips to Ensure Your First Christmas Together Isn’t Your Last
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