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The Impact of Holiday Stress

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Center, some of the stats are sobering:

• 75% of people experience “extreme stress” during the holiday season

• 69% are stressed by feeling or having a “a lack of time”

• 69% are stressed by perceiving a “lack of money”

• 68% feel greater fatigue

• 53% feel stressed about too much commercialism and advertising hype

• 52% are more irritable

• 51% are stressed over the “pressure to give or receive gifts”

• 44% are stressed about family gatherings

• 37% are stressed about staying on a diet – there is an average 18% increase in eating over the holiday period

• 36% feel greater sadness

• 35% feel greater anger

• 34% are stressed about making/facing travel plans

• 26% feel more lonely


20 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

Here are a few suggestions to help maintain a healthy sense of balance during the holiday season:


1.    Accept the fact right now that you simply cannot do everything and you cannot do it for everyone. Determine what are desires and preferences vs. what are true priorities.


2.    Plan ahead as much as possible. Managing and scheduling your time is much better than your time controlling you.

3.    Create a budget and stick to it. Don’t try to buy happiness – celebrate and enjoy it.


4.    Give up the goal (or obsession) of having to be perfect and/or do everything perfectly. Life rarely works out that way.


5.    Give yourself permission to set appropriate boundaries with people. Be willing to say, “No” and don’t feel guilty about it. Every time you say, “Yes,” you are saying, “No” to something else. Say, “No” to the right things.


6.    Build in downtime for yourself. Read a book. Play. Relax. Go to a movie. Engage in a favorite hobby. Sit and just be still for a few minutes.


7.    Share the tasks; do less, not more. Doing things together, especially when it flows out of genuine relationship, often renews the soul.


8.    Don’t give up all of your normal and daily routines. Repetition and rhythm are good ways to minimize anxiety, worry, and depression.


9.    Unplug from time-to-time. Be intentional about reducing the amount and use of technology, especially social media. Quiet your soul.


10.        Have reasonable expectations for yourself and others. Understand that there may be some distance between the ideal and the real when it comes to family, friends, and schedules. Don’t make it your mission to “fix” people or the past. Instead, give the gift of your time and the ministry of presence.

11.        If being lonely or depressed is a concern, get involved. Avoid isolation. Reach out and seek community. Spend some meaningful time offering service to others who also need a word or gesture of love and encouragement.


12.        Be careful what you eat and drink. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and can compound other symptoms of depression.


13.        Be sure to get enough sleep. This is the body and mind’s way of restoring and revitalizing itself. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average person loses almost a day of sleep every week.


14.        Listen to your favorite music. One study out of the University of Maryland showed that music can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, especially in and around the heart.


15.        Spend more time in direct sunlight during the winter months. Sunlight increases the production of serotonin, an important mood stabilizing neurotransmitter.


16.        Smell the citrus. Research on depression has revealed that citrus fragrances can increase a person’s sense of well-being and alleviate the symptoms of stress because of increased norepinephrine production. Norepinephrine is another important mood-related neurotransmitter.


17.        Take a brisk walk or work out on a regular basis. Moderate exercise is an effective stress reliever and has a positive effect on the brain by decreasing anxiety and improving sleep patterns.

18.        Watch the caffeine intake (e.g., coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda). This is especially important after 3:00-4:00 pm because caffeine has an almost eight-hour half-life (meaning 50% of its effect is still impacting your body up to eight hours after consumption). Too much caffeine (a stimulant), when combined with increased levels of stress-related adrenaline (also a stimulant), over-amps every system in the body.


19.        Meditate on your favorite Scriptures. Have some honey while you do it – food for the soul and for the body. Honey is a proven antioxidant (the darker the better) and has antibacterial properties that help the immune system while also providing a good source of energy.


20.        If necessary or appropriate, seek out professional help. Untreated anxiety, depression, addiction, and other stress-related disorders can be potentially dangerous.

Finally, take some time throughout the holidays to reflect on the things you are truly thankful for. Having a thankful heart can be transformative in so many ways. Create some of your own memories and traditions.


Invite Christ, the true Prince of Peace, to have first place in your life and affirm once again the joy of His gift to you.


Perspective is a great companion in the midst of all that seems crazy and disruptive. The holidays can become an endless pursuit of peace, joy, meaning, relationship, and so much more; yet too many of us look for it in all the wrong places. Jesus is the source.


Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jn. 14:27). He is, as the angels proclaimed two thousand years ago, the, “good news of great joy, which will be for all people” (Lk. 2:10)

All Things are Possible 2023

Pastor Larry 

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