Managing Holiday Stress
When I asked the participants on one of my teleseminars to tell me their most important questions regarding managing holiday stress, here are some of things they asked, along with my answers.
Q: “I am overwhelmed. I play the organ at church, which has 101 services (a slight exaggeration) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Plus we have both our families to see, not to mention working two jobs. I haven’t purchased or wrapped presents, or decorated the house.”
A: My heart goes out to you. You sound exasperated. You cannot be all things to all people. I wonder if that is part of your life pattern, not just during the Holidays?
Start by examining your beliefs. Would God want you to be frazzled, letting yourself be pulled in 100 directions? Does God want you to feel guilty about not buying presents and not putting up decorations? Pray to know your true worth, your true identity, the way God sees you.
Take a look at your priorities. What matters most in your life? Make peace with the fact that you cannot do everything. You have my permission to stop feeling guilty. Your worth is not dependent on what you do, or being good, or being good enough. Your worth is guaranteed by God just because you exist. You don’t have to do anything to deserve this love.
Take time to journal and meditate in God’s love in the morning and before you go to sleep. Soak up God’s love. Breathe it into your skin. People who truly love you want you to cultivate inner peace. If you are concerned about saying “no” to others, consider this: When you say “no” to take good care of yourself, you are modeling healthy behavior for others, even if they do not like it. Take a stand to be healthy. Let God’s love warm your heart, and say “no” at the same time.
Remember the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That means to love yourself as much as others, not to love others more than yourself. When you fill up your own cup, you have more love and energy to give to others.
Q: “How do I stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas, i.e., the birth of Jesus and the significance of His coming? It’s a challenge with all the seasonal activities (shopping for or making gifts, wrapping them, addressing Christmas cards, etc., etc., etc.) layered on top of an already crowded schedule.”
A: Everyone will have a slightly different answer, but here are a few ideas. Which of the following works for you? The more feeling that you evoke, the more likely you will repeat the daily ritual. What stirs your soul?
Start each day with a ritual and make it beautiful.
- Gaze upon a beautiful picture that helps you feel your Love for Jesus.
- Play a song, or sing a song … maybe your favorite Christmas carol.
- Remember the most special Christmas you ever had. Journal about what made it so special.
- Write a love letter to Jesus. Tell Him how much you appreciate him and what he has done in your life.
- Write love letters to people. When you express your love, you are letting the love of Christ flow through you.
- Sit down with a pen and paper. Get real quiet and take a few deep breaths. Pray. Tune into God. Ask what God wants to tell you about how to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas. Write what you hear. Act on it.
Q: “How do I stay in a peaceful place in the midst of others’ stress? Both my parents are sick.”
A: Sometimes it’s easy to focus on other’s needs and lose sight of who you are.
1. Start with developing the clear intention to cultivate inner peace, no matter what is going on around you. When you create a clear intention, it drives all your choices, feelings and decisions. Intend to stay connected to your true essence, your Authentic Self, nestled in God. This is your center, your true north.
2. Body-centered Meditation
Focus on your body. Name the parts of your body that feel most tight or tense. Or maybe there’s a different sensation. Name the parts of your body that feel most relaxed. Next feel your emotions and label them, e.g., anxious, helpless, sad, scared or angry. Be present. Stay self-aware, connected to God and stop abandoning yourself. It is OK to feel what you feel. Breathe deeply. Feel your feet on the floor. Ground. Imagine you are a large tree with very deep roots reaching into the earth. Remember who you are in your true identity. Focus on your heart center, and visualize a warm, cozy image that generates a feeling of love. Breathe into that image several times a day. This grounding technique will center you. It’s also helpful to reduces high blood pressure, eliminate headaches and sleep better. Do this 1 – 2 times a day.
To sustain inner peace day after day, you will need a reminder system. Place post-it notes in your home, at work and in your car. Draw a symbol that represents peace and comfort to you. Listen to soothing music at 60 beats per minute, nice and slow. It’ll help calm you down.
Here’s a tool to help you unwind and relax. Click here to listen to a sample of “A Journey into Wholeness” CD.
Author: Benita A. Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor. If you would like psychotherapy, spiritual counseling or life coaching to manage stress and conflict during the holidays, or any other time of the year, please complete the Contact Page.
Bio. Benita Esposito is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Georiga.
Two offices: Atlanta and Blairsville, Georgia
www.SensitiveIntrovert.com for highly sensitive people