By Jennifer Heggie


Surviving Christmas


Holidays can be a stressful time for many. Whether it is of the recent death of a loved one, spending Christmas alone, dealing with family chaos, shopping, cooking, attending or hosting Christmas parties, decorating for the holidays, attending school plays and church functions and all the other hustle and bustle that goes along with Christmas, these can make for a stressful time of the year.


For many, the biggest stressor for the holidays is family—the family dinner, and the obligations or the burden of family tradition.


Some families can identify with the Charles Dickens character of Ebenezer Scrooge and his famous “Bah! Humbug!” quote when it comes to the holidays. Others can identify with The Griswold’s in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation dealing with their crazy Cousin Eddie or the panicked, stressed-out mother, Kate McCallister, trying to find her lost son, Kevin McCallister, in the movie Home Alone.


Holiday stress can be triggered by unhappy memories, toxic relatives, changes that have occurred since last Christmas, monotonous sameness of family gatherings and being worn out from work and other obligations. When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. The easiest way to decrease your stress level at the holidays is by focusing on the things you can control.


According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This year, as Christmas approaches, do something different and do yourself a favor—don’t put unrealistic expectations on others and take care of yourself.


Here are a few self-care tips by the Mayo Clinic Staff to help you survive the holidays.


  • Acknowledge your feelings and express them.
  • Reach out. Seek community with your church family or volunteer your time to help others. Getting outside yourself is a good way to decrease your stress and it helps someone else out at the same time.
  • Be realistic.
  • Set aside differences—having unrealistic expectations of others are resentments waiting to happen.
  • Stick to a budget
  • Plan ahead.
  • Learn to say no. No is a complete sentence.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits; overindulgence only adds to stress.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Seek professional help if needed.


Regardless of how much stress you are under, take time out to remember the real reason of Christmas—the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Joy to the World, the Lord is come!