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Managing Feelings of Holiday Stress

Updated: May 6, 2023

2020 has been a challenging year for many. With the uncertainty and concerns surrounding COVID-19, isolation, quarantine, unemployment, and more, by this time, many people are feeling “fried” and ready to embrace a new year. With the holiday season approaching, these feelings of stress and anxiety can be heightened.

Your thoughts can affect your physiology, your emotions, and your actions. That’s why Romans 12:2 instructs us “to not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” – Managing Feelings of Anxiety Amid COVID-19, Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries

This holiday season may look different than previous years. Travel restrictions, social distancing, and small gatherings may make it harder for us to see and connect with the ones we love. Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries wants to help you and your family navigate and manage your feelings of stress and anxiety to have a happy, safe, and blessed holiday season.

Remember the Reason for the Season

The most important thing to remember is what the holiday season is really about. It’s about community, family, love, and blessings. When you may find yourself upset, frustrated, or overwhelmed, ask yourself, “does it really matter?”

  • Does it really matter that the holidays are going to look a little different? With platforms like FaceTime and Zoom, families and loved ones are able to see each other and stay connected, even across countries.

  • Does it really matter that you can’t buy as many Christmas presents this year? Christmas isn’t about gift-giving; it’s about celebrating Him and being thankful for what He brings into our lives.

What does matter is the health and safety of your friends and family. What does matter is that you have a roof over your head and food on your table. What does matter is that all the struggles and hardships you may have faced this year made you and your family stronger. Combat your feelings of stress by reflecting on all your blessings.

Be Realistic and Accept Imperfection

Since the holidays may look different, some may feel the need to go above and beyond to make it the best holiday season ever. On the opposite side, others may have a hard time accepting a change in holiday celebrations.

While it can be fun to add excitement and hype up holiday celebrations, be realistic in your expectations for these celebrations. Some family members may opt to wear a mask at family functions or avoid gatherings altogether; don’t let their decisions impact your emotions and create unwarranted feelings of stress.

We’ve all have an image of the picture-perfect holiday celebration - the perfect dinner, the perfect decorations, the perfect memories, but life happens. Dinner can get burned and the dog may eat a decoration, but those imperfect memories are what bring families together. Once you accept your holiday season for what it is, you’ll find yourself feeling less stressed and happier.

Take a Deep Breath

“…Sometimes we forget to take deep breaths and really give our bodies the oxygen we need. It's great if you can take ten minutes by yourself to do a breathing meditation, but merely stopping to take a few deep, cleansing breaths can reduce your level of negative stress in a matter of minutes, too (”

The holiday season is a time to focus on others, giving back, and spending time with family, friends, and neighbors, but it’s also a time to focus on ourselves. While stress can be a natural reaction, being mindful of your thoughts and actions can help prevent unwarranted and unnecessary feelings of stress from arising.


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