'Tis the season to celebrate the birth of Jesus, with gift-giving and merrymaking everywhere. Unfortunately, it's also the season of harried Christmas shopping and frazzled party preparations. How do we minimize holiday stress so we can focus on the solemn, prayerful meaning of Christmas? Here, we've compiled important expert tips to beat holiday stress and stay calm throughout the season.
1. Make a list (and check it twice).
Practically every expert advice out there would tell you that to reduce stress, it's essential to plan ahead. Make your plan much more efficient by actually writing it down as a list. It's widely known in psychology that to-do lists are powerful in organizing our thoughts, making them more tangible and helping eliminate the clutter in our head. Plus, you don't have to stress about forgetting something that you were just thinking about this morning!
For the holiday season, consider making two lists:
- Shopping list: Jot down the people you're giving presents to, think ahead about what you're gifting them, and set the corresponding budget. Also write down the things you have to buy if you're hosting (or going to) a social gathering, such as food, decor, and gifts. This way, you know exactly which stores you need to go to and what route you should take when you head out.
- A schedule: Very basic, but really crucial for such a busy season. Pencil in not only of your social schedule but also your errands: shopping, driving to family, cooking, decorating, etc. These things make up more time than we expect during the holidays.
2. Just say no.
When you've listed the things you have to do and buy and make this season, you'll soon realize that some are utterly important while others are things you can skip out on. And when you find that there's too much on your plate, don't hesitate to say "Pass" on the less-important things. Maybe there's one party on your calendar that you don't have to go to. Or maybe there's a Christmas public event that everyone's going to, but you don't really feel enthusiastic about. Politely decline these invitations and use your free time to recharge in a calmer environment.
3. Try alternative gifts.
Instead of diving into the shopping mall crowds and the temper-testing traffic, be creative and think of presents that don't involve in-store purchases. If you have fantastic crafting skills, go ahead and create lovely items as gifts. If you have any other outstanding skill (cooking, photography, consulting, etc), see if you can turn that into a valuable offer to your loved one.
One suggestion we really like is to donate to a charity in someone's name. It's effortless but actually a meaningful way to spread the cheer this season. Ask your loved one which cause they support, and inform them that you are making a donation on their behalf.
4. Do your shopping online.
If you really must buy your gifts from a store, ordering items via the internet can be a godsend for you. (Even Psych Central recommends it.) It saves you so much time and lets you avoid the hassle associated with real-world Christmas shopping. This way, you have more time, space, and inner calm for more important things, such as prayer, reflection, and quality time with family.
Note our two top tips for online shopping: Buy only from trusted sellers, and do your purchases in advance so you don't have to get anxious when they get delayed. (PS: Christian Style is a highly trusted online store for Bible-themed clothes, artwork, and gift items. Browse the store here!)
5. Dedicate times for daily prayer.
It's not about "finding time"; it's about "making time." Prioritize your time with God every single day, and don't let anything else intrude into this sacred period. Maybe set a few minutes upon waking up for prayer, Bible-reading, and reflection. Then do the same before you go to sleep. This specific schedule is not merely a matter of "fitting it in." The morning prayer time helps set your mindset and energy for the rest of the day, and the evening prayer time lets your spirit calm down and reconnect with the Lord after all the hustle and bustle.
6. Maintain healthy habits.
Eating right, getting exercise, and getting proper sleep. These three are the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle, helping our body and mind stay in tiptop shape despite the busyness. You wouldn't want to develop a health issue in the middle of the holidays, do you? So repeat after us: eat right, get exercise, and sleep well.
And since overindulgence is everywhere during the holidays, here are a few extra tips:
- If you've allowed yourself to overindulge in food and drink at a social gathering, balance it out with healthy meals and exercise during the next days.
- If you get too busy to do your exercise routine, commit to walk or jog daily instead. You can do this anytime, such us when you're running errands.
- If your days feel too short that you get less than seven hours of sleep, then it's time to reassess your daily tasks and let go of the ones that are not essential.
7. Enlist help (and make it fun).
You don't have to do everything alone! For tasks that are time-consuming or complicated, get the help of family and friends. Teach the kids to help wrap presents (they'll love the creative project). Have friends over to help in party preparations. Get your whole family in action when preparing the Christmas dinner. Most importantly, use this time to bond with them, catching up with their lives and sharing laughter over the little missteps that occur. (Bonus tip: Let go of perfection!)
8. Listen to your favorite music.
Some songs give you an energy boost, some calm you down, and some just make you feel good. The best part is, you're absolutely free to listen to these tunes while you go about your holiday To-Dos! Even science has backed this up, as research from the University of Maryland found that listening to music you love helps improve blood vessel function. It doesn't even matter whether it's Christmas music or the Billboard 100. Put on your favorite playlist to fight holiday blues!
9. Take a breather.
In the middle of these frantic days, allow yourself to get a few minutes of peace. There's much ado about being busy all the time that people often forget that rest and solitude are vital. According to the Mayo Clinic, "spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do." Some of their excellent suggestions include taking a walk, listening to soothing music, and reading a book.
10. Take a real vacation.
Most of us are blessed with vacation days this season. Use this free time to actually be away from the usual frenzy. Whether you're spending your holidays at home with the family, or somewhere else with friends, or even by yourself, take the opportunity to reconnect with what's important. Faith, relationships, spiritual development, mental wellness -- these are some essentials you may want to prioritize this season.
We hope these stress-busting tips help you enjoy the Christmas season and refocus on its true meaning! For more advice on staying calm as a Christian, read our tips here. We also have tips on how to maintain a peaceful environment in your Christian home.
From all of us at Christian Style, may you have a blessed, peaceful, and meaningful Christmas!