Comfort and joy -- 10 ways to beat holiday stress

Christmas can be a very stressful time. It is a frenzied season full of expectations and obligations. Decorations need to be put up, baking has to be done, presents have to be purchased and relatives must be visited. It is quite possible that in a season where you should experience peace and joy you miss out on all of it.

Maybe you have experienced this too many times over the years. And you would like to get your Christmas holiday back to where it should be. A time where you enjoy the season and experience less stress rather than more. Here are 10 ways you can take back your Christmas season.

Establish your priorities

What is most important to you this Christmas? If it is time with family, then make that your first priority. With a host of holiday options, choose to put your time with family first. If it is spiritual, then focus on the religious activities that bring you the greatest joy. If it is experiences, make sure your money is spent on what will create the best memories.

Have realistic expectations

We all want the season to be filled with happiness, but that may not be possible. There are factors beyond our control that can negatively impact any Christmas celebration. Job loss, health issues, family problems and other challenges do not disappear because it is Christmas. Be prepared that things may not turn out exactly the way you want or expect.

Keep spending under control

Establishing a budget for Christmas is crucial to managing stress. Knowing how much you can afford and sticking to your budget will make your holiday a whole lot better. Spend only what you have saved for buying presents and avoid overusing credit cards. In the end, Christmas is about relationships and memories, not material things.

Guard Against Perfectionism

Even people who are not perfectionists can get wrapped up in wanting everything to be perfect at Christmas. Much like a wedding, if you are not careful you can get so stressed out over every detail that you miss out on enjoying the celebration. Striving for perfection in your gift giving, decorations and events can leave you frustrated and exhausted.

Ask For Help

If you feel overwhelmed with all that you have to do, ask others to help you. Being a martyr will not make your holiday better. Let the people who care about you know that your stress level is too high and ask for their assistance to get everything done.

Practice Moderation in Activities

You simply cannot attend every party or event. You need to say “no” to those activities that you can’t fit into your schedule. There must be enough time for relaxation and rest. Don’t overdo anything (even the good stuff). Realize that you can’t do everything.

Maintain Your Perspective

The reality is that the Christmas season lasts a fairly short time and then life returns to normal. The extra stress you are experiencing is not unending and will pass sooner than you realize. Certain challenging situations brought on by family or finances will only last for this brief season and then life returns to normal.

Continue Healthy Habits

Your schedule can get pretty jumbled during the holidays. It is easy to let certain positive habits slip away. Exercising is a proven stress reducer and should be done consistently throughout the Christmas season. Getting enough sleep is crucial to looking and feeling your best. As tempting as it is, don’t go overboard with too much eating or drinking.

Have Some Fun

Make sure to have time for the things you truly enjoy at Christmas. Do the fun stuff this season provides. Whether that is a favorite holiday movie, special tree lighting, feeding the homeless or trip to the city, those activities should be highlights of your Christmas season.

Remember The Reason

After all the parties, shopping and events, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. His teachings and example are a guide for us to follow. Showing God’s love to others, serving those in need and giving gifts is what Christmas is really about. Wrap up your Christmas season at a Christmas Eve service and you will truly experience a Christmas comeback.

Rick McDaniel is the author of the recently released book "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks." He is also the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, VA.