It’s that time of the year when we gather together with family and friends for the holidays. There’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and such. And even though we would love to find “peace on earth” when we get together with each other, unfortunately, it isn’t often that way. It’s often the opposite with a lot of stress and pressure happening. It can become a war of words and actions.
So, to help you “reduce” this stress, we’ll share tips from some “experts” that you may be able to use. Glean what will work and disregard the rest.
TIPS TO REDUCE STRESS
“Simplify your lifestyle.
One of the leading causes of stress is that we try to cram too much into these days. Instead of watching your calendar fill up, go ahead now and block out personal time, couple times, and family times. Then when that really nice invitation comes along, have the courage to say, ‘I’m so sorry we have a conflict.’ It is far easier to set boundaries before the commitments start to pile up” (Susan Yates, from FamilyLife.com article, “Three Ways to Relieve Stress Before the Holidays Arrive“).
“Whatever schedule conflicts you encounter, let them remind you to be grateful for the gift of time.
Choose to focus on the people you are able to celebrate with, and use your time with them well… Let go of the stress you felt figuring out your plans and decide to be content with what you’re doing this holiday. [See Philippians 4:11.] Ask God to surprise you with moments of joy as you let go of your own agenda and live in the present moment” (Whitney Von Lake Hopler, from Crosswalk.com article “Don’t Invite Your Expectations to Thanksgiving“).
“If you are going to be spending a lot of time with family, be intentional.
Make sure you build in breaks for the family. The holidays can be a special time for families to be together, but you don’t need to overdose” (John Thurman, from Johnthurman.net article “Holiday Reduction Stress Tips“).
“No matter what embarrasses you, let it help you appreciate God’s grace more.
Remember the many times you’ve messed up in life, only to have God keep loving you and forgiving you when you turn to let Him. Let your gratitude for God’s grace motivate you to forgive others who do or say something embarrassing. Know that your forgiveness will show them Christ’s love in action and possibly move lost family members closer to a relationship with Him.” (Whitney Von Lake Hopler, from Crosswalk.com article “Don’t Invite Your Expectations to Thanksgiving“).
“Regardless of what your therapist says, the Christmas season is not about problem solving.
Deal with family issues another time. You have to choose how you are going to feel. You do not have to be a slave to old memories” [See: 2 Corinthians 10:5-6] (John Thurman, from Johnthurman.net article “Twenty Holiday Stress Busters“).
“Think before you speak.
Make a list of ‘topics to avoid.’ …Topics that are almost always safe: the weather, sports, gardening and the other person’s life. God gave us two ears and one mouth. Use your words to help others feel about themselves” [See: Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:24-25] (John Thurman, from Johnthurman.net article “Twenty Holiday Stress Busters“).
“Learn the Power of Pause.
No matter how well you plan ahead, assume a positive attitude and acquire a sensible perspective. Anything can go awry. Learning to take a few deep breaths in the midst of a debacle opens a world of opportunities for you to grow and, in the process, teach others —especially children —invaluable lessons. Instead of becoming reactive and hastily assuming the worst when problems arise, simply pause. Creating a pause unlocks your creativity.” [See: 2 Timothy 2:23] (Hal Runkel, from the Growthtrac.com article “Practical Advice for a Scream Free Thanksgiving“).
“For stepfamilies — Gather on neutral ground.
Meet at a place that belongs to no one —include everyone that you can and avoid posturing and fighting” [See: Romans 14:19] (John Thurman, from Johnthurman.net article “Twenty Holiday Stress Busters“).
In closing, we’d also like to share with you a very condensed portion of a powerful Johnshore.com article titled, Holiday Family Gathering Coming Up? Let the Beatitudes Quell Your Attitudes, written by John Shore (which we recommend you read in its entirety through the web site link provided above). In this article, John points out that Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:3-12 some important principles that we can use to “be a blessing to ourselves and our families when we meet with them over the holidays”:
“BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT.
We tend to go into family gatherings pretty keyed up. There is a tendency to feel intense, alert, super-sensitive to everything everybody says and does. And then when we hear, ‘You’re here!’ our senses kick fully on. But that’s exactly the opposite of being ‘poor in spirit’; that’s being TOO rich in spirit. At its core that’s all about ego. Before stepping into your family gathering, take a minute, take a breath, and fill yourself with the Holy Spirit. If there’s one thing Jesus showed us, it’s that it’s ALL about wanting and keeping nothing for yourself.
“BLESSED ARE THE MEEK.
Don’t fight. Don’t provoke. …And don’t insist that your thoughts and opinions are given their full weight. Let every last bit of that go. Allow others to go before you. Let others have the floor. …If Jesus can sacrifice his life in order for you to be reconciled with God, you can surely sacrifice a bit of yourself in order to promote harmony within your family.
“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Always look to, point at, emphasize, and celebrate the good. Forget everything else; for the time that you are with your family, allow all negativity to mean to you nothing whatsoever.
“BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL.
No mystery here. Forgive, forgive, forgive till it hurts. Why shouldn’t you? You’re no angel. None of us is. We’ve all done more wrong things than there are numbers to count them… When it comes to our proper relationship to our family members, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’ should be tattooed on our hearts.
“BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART.
Don’t let the negative stay with you. When you see something that’s nasty or snarky or interested only in itself heading your way, step aside, and let it roll right past. Wave to it as it goes by —and then turn your attention back to the Holy Spirit within you. That is God —who, the Bible tells us, is LOVE.
“BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS.
Show that the peace of the Lord is upon you by becoming the means by which others find peace between themselves… Let go of the wrong that tries to claim you as its own. Make peace.”
That’s good advice for us all, no matter what time of the year it is.
“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
Cindy and Steve Wright
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