It’s only the beginning of December and already people are talking about how stressed they are! Our reasons for stress are legitimate. There are family get togethers, cooking, baking, decorating, meal planning, parties, gifts to buy, financial strain and more. The pace of life really picks up this time of year.

The key to managing all the activity is to stay mentally, physically, and spiritual fit throughout the season. To do so, you need intention, or you find yourself dropping into bed exhausted, maybe even sick or moody.

Right now, take a moment, breathe, and consider a few holiday stress busters to make this season the most wonderful time of the year!

1)   Be realistic about what you can do. Don’t run around like a chicken with your head cut off. Slow down, evaluate your time, and only take on what you can truly handle. If you are financially strapped, cut back. If your health isn’t good, say NO to activities so you can rest. If you recently divorced or lost a loved one, give yourself time alone to grieve. As a general rule, you don’t have to do it all or do everything you did in years past.

2)   Try to maintain a routine. If you exercise, keep going to the gym. Or take time to walk the dog every day. Eat at regular times and get enough rest. Your physical care will go a long way to combat stress. Also, sleep is a reset for your physical body so don’t deprive yourself of sleep. It impacts language, attention, and memory. And here is a fun fact, Beatle Paul McCartney wrote the classic song, Yesterday, in his sleep.

3) Don’t create family conflict. The busyness of the season often leaves us rawer in our emotions and more susceptible to irritation and agitation. Thus, I recommend you practice a little peace on earth and table the family problems for another time. Address problems when they arise, but this is not the time of year to dig into long standing family issues. Most of us simply don’t have the patience given the busyness of the season. And do your best not to create new conflict.

4) Slow down.  If you feel your heart racing and your mind is in overdrive, take a break. Get a cup of hot tea and relax with a magazine or book, take a walk, and clear your head, get a massage, sit in a hot tub and soak for 20 minutes–just stop and regroup. Meditate on a few scriptures and take time to pray. Start and end your day with a devotional reading.

5) Make a holiday budget so there are no financial surprises come January. Then, make sure you stay within that budget for all expenses. Money and debt are major stressors so take control early in the process of holiday planning.

6) Plan activities to create positive memories. There is nothing worse than getting together and everyone is on a device and not interacting. It happens! Instead, plan holiday games, do outdoor activities, crafts, etc. to promote positive interaction.

7) If there is too much to do, don’t do it.  Drop out of parties if there are too many. Don’t send Christmas cards this year if you can’t work it in. Buy your dessert instead of making it. Pick one or two things that could be dropped from the endless TO DO list. The world as you know it will not fall apart.

Now relax! Enjoy your family and friends! Embrace December! And remember, the reason for season is the birth of Christ. Focus on the Christmas story first and foremost. It’s a message of hope.

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