Wellness in the Holiday Season

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Written by:  Dr. David Chaddock

The holiday season has come again.  This is a time of joy and celebration.  It’s a time when we renew our hopes and dreams about our relationships and future.  But too often, the holiday season is also a time of greater stress, loneliness and grief.  Roughly 80% of respondents in a recent poll described this time of year as “mostly” or “very” stressful.  Unfortunately, the stress of the season often makes it difficult to truly celebrate the season or focus on the Love of God, as expressed through the birth of Jesus.

As we begin this holiday season, let us remember these tips so we can pursue the deeper meaning of Christ’s presence in our lives.

 Tips for the Holidays

1. Focus Your Commitments:  Most of us live very busy lives and the holidays can double the number of items on our “To Do” list.  Before the season even starts, try to identify the activities and events you want to complete or attend and make your plans.  With these important items planned, you may feel freer to say “yes” or “no” to other opportunities, based on your commitments.  When you schedule the commitments that are most important to you, the holiday season seems more manageable and meaningful.

2. Keep Things Simple:  The holidays are sometimes described as “too much of a good thing.”  Too often, the holidays become a time when we feel frazzled, stressed and overwhelmed.  We become worn out by trying to do too much.  Whenever possible, try to limit the shopping, parties, cards and gifts and focus on a simpler holiday, with more time for relating to loved ones and reflection. 

3. Don’t Go to Excess:  The holiday season can be a time of excess.  Too often, we eat too much, drink too much and spend too much.  All three of these can lead to problems in the coming year.  The holidays were never intended to be a season resulting in weight gain, memories of embarrassing behaviors or more bills to pay.  Try to limit your excesses and not consume too much this year. 

4. Be Wise with Your Relationships:  The holidays are a time when we think about our relationships.  Sometimes we are concerned about spending time with friends and family, especially when there have been problems in the past.  Sometimes, the holidays cause us to remember those who are no longer in our lives due to death, divorce or distance.  Sometimes we are anxious about simply being out of our normal relational routines.  If you feel there is “too much togetherness” with family and friends, find ways to get some space.  Take a walk, a nap or make a Starbuck’s run.  If you feel like there’s “not enough togetherness”, look for ways to get involved with others.  Volunteer at church, in the community or help out with planning the company party.  When we help others, especially during the holidays, we often discover our own loneliness is relieved.

5. Ask for Help:  You may find the holiday season especially hard this year.  Perhaps it’s been a difficult year because of work, a death or conflict with your family.  Perhaps the holidays just bring up too many painful memories.  Whatever the reason, know that help is available.  Contact the Pastoral Care office at 253-6461 or CenterPoint Counseling at 252-5518, if you want to talk with someone.  The holiday season is a great time to ask for help.

Try to remember that the holidays are a time to renew and deepen our faith in Jesus.  As we remember the coming of the Christ Child, we can celebrate the love of God and experience the joy that comes through this Season of Hope.