The holiday season is upon us and I am so excited for it! The music, the emotions, the memories. They all bring about a general sense of goodwill and cheer. But with Christmas time quickly approaching, many moms are starting to feel the itches of Christmas stress and worry. The idea of a stress-free Christmas may seem far-fetched, but it is totally doable!
While it can seem counterintuitive to think of Christmas as a stressful time, we can look to society and the hijacking of every season by materialism and consumerism to blame. Each of us falls into the traps, because as moms, we want our children to experience all the magic of the season!
I want to challenge this way of thinking with a thought. What if the “magic” of the season isn’t in the things, or the money spent?
What if the “magic” of the stress-free and memorable Christmas was in the people and the experience as a whole?
If you are a mom who has ever thought “Christmas stresses me out,” I encourage you to keep reading for 5 secrets I am using to avoid the Christmas Stress and enjoy a joyful holiday season.
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Why is Christmas so stressful?
The sounds of the Christmas season brings up memories of joy for many, but to some. Christmas time can be a lot of christmas stress and anxiety! By why is that? Well In today’s society, Christmas has been commercialized and the true meaning. The joy of the season has been hijacked for a feeling of bigger, better, and more.
People all around the globe get caught up in the spirit of giving so much so that they take the fun out of it. They get wrapped up into the hustle and bustle of the season and forget that the first Christmas was much more simple. It was a small family celebrating the greatest gift given, by a Father who loves us so very much!
Another reason that Christmas can bring on stress and in many cases grief is the reminder of what has been lost over the years. Christmas is a time to celebrate with the ones you love, but it also highlights the fact that some are no longer here with us. This is often called Christmas anxiety and it is brought on by the difficult memories or ongoing problems that plague us during a time when we should be joyfilled.
How can I enjoy Christmas more?
Just because you are feeling the holiday stress doesn’t mean that you have to remain in a state of sadness, worry, or anxiety. In fact with just a few shifts in your mindset you can make the holiday season less stressful and even bring back some of the magic of the spirit of Christmas.
It simply requires you to do three things.
and Be present!
If you keep these thoughts on your mind while also adding the secrets I’m about to share you are sure to have a stress-free holiday!
How can I stop stressing at Christmas?
So you want to have a stress free christmas, but you are unsure of where to even begin! Well here are a few things that have absolutely helped me to enjoy the season so much more!!
1. Remember the reason for the season
One of the best ways to minimize the overwhelm and enjoy a stress-free holiday season is to remember the reason for the celebrations! Christmas is ushered in by a celebration of gratitude and thanksgiving. We give thanks and praise for the people and blessings we have in our life right before celebrating the greatest gift the humanity has ever been given, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
When we keep this in the forefront of our minds we can ask a simple question when we begin to feel stress and anxiety about the season: Does this activity/item/thought help me express gratitude for the gift of Jesus.
Does this help me express gratitude for the birth of Jesus?
If your answer is no, then let go of the thought and move forward. This is the whole purpose of the season and the whole reason we celebrate! His birth and eventual sacrifice is the true spirit of Christmas and the reason for the season.
Ways to keep the true meaning of Christmas your focus
Consider an advent activity. When you make it a point to focus on advent (the preparation for the birth of Christ) you keep your mind and the minds of those in your family on the whole purpose of Christmas. It also allows you to have a stress-free Christmas tradition that is focused on the true meaning.
Share your time. Instead of making the holiday season and your holiday activities internally focus, consider making the activities about spending time with those around you and building community. That could be a simple hot chocolate and movie night with the neighbors or visiting grandparents in retirement communities.
Support charities. There is something about Christmas that brings out people’s best selves. Perhaps it is the fact that we are celebrating a gift we received. Find ways to serve others through volunteering with or donating to a charity. (Pro hack: keep dollar bills or $5 in your wallet for the charities at the front of stores.
Spread kindness. This one is simple but effective one because some of the best gifts cost little or nothing at all. Spend this season telling your friends and family how much they mean to you. Pro hack: write a list of your friends and family, every day pick a new person on the list to send a sentimental text message to)
Practice compassion. Compassion and grace go a long way towards a stress-free christmas season. Perhaps you are easily annoyed by people cutting in line or the extra traffic and crowds. Try putting yourself in their shoes. They too are probably feeling the same anxieties you are, but maybe without this handy guide to help them navigate it. Offer tons of grace and compassion during the season for more joy and to experience the true spirit of the season.
2. Let Go of Holiday Expectations and avoid Christmas Stress
Pinterest is the enemy to a stress-free holiday. Our social media feeds are filled with the very best of the best holiday ideas that challenge us to do more and try harder. These feeds are also the cause of moms everywhere becoming more stressed and overwhelmed. We want to do everything and essentially end up missing out on the joy of the entire season.
We don’t have to bake every cookie (we don’t have to bake at all). We don’t have to have an elf. We don’t have to have 5 trees and an outside lights display that dances to music. This doesn’t have to happen. If you can plan it and do it without adding stress to your life, AMAZING!! But if you cannot then I want you to circle back to number one and ask yourself the question: Does this help me show gratitude for the gift of Jesus?
Ways to let go of holiday expectation for a stress-free Christmas
Be flexible. Embrace the spirit of flexibility and realize you can have joy and peace in all situations and circumstances. The circumstance does not give you peace, the peace comes from your connection to God. When you are open to the experience of the season being what it is instead of what you have envisioned it to be, you allow the peace that you have been given to invade your situation and you’ll feel more joy and be more stress-free.
Appreciate surprises. It might seem like a good idea to make a wish list of the gifts you want to receive for the holidays. But, if you always tell people what you want to receive, you might as well go out and buy it yourself. Take pleasure in being surprised by whatever comes your way.
Laugh more. Try to spot the humor in stressful holiday situations. Two years ago, my husband decided he wanted to take care of the turkey. He woke up early, put the ingredients in that I had laid out the night before and felt so proud of himself. When I work up, I noticed that the chicken stock I had laid out wasn’t used…. My sweet husband had unintentionally used the cream of chicken not the stock.. We laugh about it now, but that was not my feeling at the time. I wish I would have chosen joy and laughter. I am encouraging you to make the right choice.
3. Organize and simplify your holiday plans
If you are truly looking forward to having a stress-free holiday season, you’ve got to fight the internal desires to do things bigger. Choosing to simplify your holiday plans may be choosing to go against the grain, but it just might be the choice that gives you the breather you need this season.
Consider the things that are important to you for the holidays. Make a list of those items and then create a plan for how to prepare for those things ahead of time. Set your holiday boundaries around those items. For example, if you absolutely have to go to your office party, write it down, but then choose to say no to any additional holiday parties.
Simplifying and organizing your holidays plans will not only keep the anxiety of the season at bay, but will also allow you the time and space to celebrate the true meaning of the season.
Ways to organize and simplify holiday plans
Create a budget – one of the greatest stressers of the holiday season is the amount of money it costs to have a Pinterest worthy holiday. Our society thrives off of bigger and more, and in many ways this seeps into the seams of our holiday expectations and our wallets. Creating a budget that fits within your means is imperative to simplifying your holidays and destressing your Christmas.
Make sure that you include all parts of the holiday celebration to the budget: decorations, food, baking, gifts, entertainment and activities.
Plan ahead – If you are planning to travel whether by car or plane consider purchasing your tickets or making your plans early. Determine who you will be visiting as a family and stick to that plan. This will allow you to monitor for travel deals as well as map your routes.
Simplify your menu – Having 8 different side dishes and 4 meats for your family of 5 may be tradition, but it might not be necessary. Consider your menu early and make sure it makes sense for your family. Consider sharing the load and having each family member make one thing, or go rouge and consider a new recipe instead of traditional and time consuming fare.
Streamline your schedule – its okay if you don’t go to every holiday party. Let me say it again. It’s okay to say No! One of the stresses of the holidays includes having 1000 obligations and no time for any of them. Often attending 2 different events a day. It is exhausting! Even if you don’t usually use a wall calendar, consider this month using one and set off limits days for rest. Decide how many parties you want to attend. Write it down and stick to it!
4. Distance yourself from materialism and skip the anxiety
Materialism and the ‘got to have it all” mentality has taken over a lot of the spirit of the holidays. Christmas has become less about the birth of the savior and more about the newest, and most expensive gifts.
When we embrace this materialistic mindset we end up feeling like we are in a rat race and striving instead of celebrating the coming savior.
Instead of spending the holidays in the race for more, choose to distance yourself from these mindsets and embrace a simpler season.
Ways to distance yourself from materialism for a stress-free holiday
Watch tv selectively – television commercials entire purpose is to encourage you to buy things. They can therefore purposefully create pressure to buy more, so turn the TV off unless there is something extra special your family wants to watch. Consider spending more time on Christmas activities.
DIY more – whether it’s home decoration or gifts, items you make yourself save money and feel more special. Gather pine leaves, twigs and holly to make a wreath. Consider knitting or crocheting gifts for family members, or put to use some of those random craft projects you’ve purchased throughout the year.
Consider gifts carefully – once you have a budget, you can then choose gifts with meaning that are either homemade or have minimal costs but big meaning. If you are at a loss for where to start, consider these homemade gift ideas from My Cup Runs Over.
Reconsider family traditions – Every year there is a new viral Christmas tradition. Each year, moms everywhere are trying there hardest to give their children the Christmas celebration that society tells her she should give them.
5. Maintain daily self-care and Plan for an after the holidaySelf-Care Day
The last tip may be one of the most important. Inevitably the holiday season will bring about some bit of busyness. There is more to do, and normal self-care routines can be hard to maintain with the children out of school and visitors in the home.
Mental health and Christmas may not seem to go hand in hand, but the holidays can be hard for many people. Not only because the true meaning of the season is often lost in the hustle and bustle of gifts and parties. Many people struggle with the holidays because of loss of loved ones and this time of celebration can make those feelings more present.
Making sure that you are intentionally taking time to care for your mental, emotional, and physical health is an important part of ensuring that the Christmas stress does not overwhelm you
Ways to incorporate self-care into your holiday plans
Continue healthy routines. Whether you have a flawless morning routine, or you enjoy giving thanks in the evenings. Make sure that you are maintaining these habits even in the midst of the busyness of the season. Even if it is just one thing, like practicing gratitude daily or maintaining your nightly prayer journaling routine.
Indulge in moderation. There are SOOOOO many delicious foods to try and enjoy during this season, but try to do it in moderation. You do not need to completely avoid holiday treats, but remember a well balanced diet, and hydration play a huge part in our energy levels.
Plan for after holiday self-care day. Consider scheduling and planning a self-care day after the busyness of the season. A few tips that can help make this day easier to add to your schedule include:
- Make sure to save personal time off for it
- Let your family know that you will not be available for the allotted time
- Have your self-care kit prepared for the day
- Consider a staycation at a local hotel or bed and breakfast
Avoid Christmas Stress by remembering the true meaning
This season, make a commitment to yourself not to get trapped by the rush and the hustle. Do not allow the stress of the season that our society seems to embrace ruin the moments that can be cherished with your loved ones.
In the end, the whole purpose of the birth of the savior was freedom from the sins and trappings of this world. Choose this thought to embrace. Embrace the gift of Jesus. Embrace the joy and goodwill of the season.
Happy Holidays to you all from my little family to yours!