December 30, 2021

Christmas Stress Survival Top 10 List


  • Once upon a time, I, Ashley Black, was a pastor’s kid. Let me rephrase: once upon a time I was THE
    pastor’s kid. That’s right, my dear old dad was and still is the wisest and most profound speaker I have
    ever and probably will ever have the pleasure of hearing speak. He really is a spiritual powerhouse; but as
    a kid, all I cared about were the sermons where he read a top ten list. I remember my absolute favorite top
    ten list: Children’s Book Titles You’ll Never See. My favorite from that list? Pop Goes the Hamster and
    Other Microwave Tales. I still think it’s hilarious! So in honor of Pastor Wayne’s famous top ten lists, I’ve
    organized this blog post into my very own: Christmas Stress Survival Top 10 List.
    1. Food Does Not Have Morality: A big part of Christmas is all of the delicious food that comes
    with it. For many, food choices can be a major source of stress and anxiety. Some people refrain
    from everything for fear of falling off the proverbial wagon. Others throw up their hands and take
    down every chocolate covered thing in sight. Well friends, I’m here to tell you, there is no wagon.
    There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” food. Food, like every other inanimate object, does
    not have morality. There are foods that are more nourishing to your body and foods that are less
    nourishing to your body but there is no food that is fundamentally good or bad, it’s just food.
    Since food cannot be good or bad, you cannot be a good or bad person based on the food choices
    you make. So make the choices you want to make this season, and if you do choose that
    chocolate covered delight… ENJOY EVERY BITE.
    2. Set Clear Boundaries: Is your family situation less than ideal? Do you have that one family
    member you just can’t seem to get along with? Setting clear boundaries is essential for holiday
    survival. Maybe your boundary is only committing to a half day with one side of the family,
    rather than a two day nonstop celebration. Perhaps you have a cousin who brings up that one
    sensitive subject every time he sees you and your boundary is to say “I would love to hear about
    how you’ve been doing, but I won’t talk about that, so if you continue I’m going to walk away.”
    Did you know that boundaries like that are not only acceptable but incredibly healthy? They are.
    Set boundaries with family members that struggle with respecting your limits; who knows, you
    might just be setting a great example for other less assertive family members.
    3. Have a Person: Now that I’m married, my husband is the one I count on to get me through
    stressful times. He knows me better than anyone and can see when I might be getting anxious or
    triggered by something. However, I was a single adult for 10 times longer than I’ve been married,
    and long before my husband entered the picture, my person was my roommate from college,
    Steph. You don’t have to be married to have a person; a true friend will do just fine. No matter
    who it is, it’s important for you to have a person. Someone who knows what the holidays will be
    like for you and can be there for you along the way. Whether you need to cry, rant, or make
    cutting sarcastic remarks to someone who won’t judge you for it, find your person, she or he will
    be a life saver.
  • 4. No is a Complete Sentence: Sometimes, you just need to say no without an explanation,
    however, very few of us feel confident enough to do so. Well friends, “no” is a complete
    sentence. If you want to say no to a side of the family or to a specific family member and that
    person or persons demand an explanation as to why, you have no obligation to give one. If you
    are an adult with reasons why you would like to not participate in something, it is not your
    responsibility or duty to share those reasons. Don’t stress out about coming up with an
    explanation that will satisfy others, just say no.
    5. Prepare: Knowing that you are heading into a stressful situation causes anxiety levels to rise long
    before you actually arrive. Begin preparations early! Spend some time before you leave doing
    some calming exercises. Breathing exercises are a great way to calm your body and central
    nervous system. Pray and meditate on Bible verses that assure you that no matter the situation,
    God will never leave you. Create a plan for if the worst happens. No matter your strategy,
    preparing your mind and body for a stressful situation is both important and necessary.
    6. Fight for the Traditions that are Important to You: Do you have a big family? Do you have
    big personalities in your family or family-in-law? Do you often feel that your desires get
    railroaded by others? You have a voice and your needs are important. Maybe you want to spend
    Christmas morning with just your spouse and kids but your extended family is pressuring you to
    spend it together. That family time is precious and important to you and it’s worth defending.
    Your extended family may not be thrilled with this boundary you’ve instated so be realistic in
    your expectations of their response. Maybe you want to go on a Christmas Day run with your best
    friend but it will make you ten minutes late for family dinner. Let the host know that you will be
    late ahead of time, insist that no one wait for you, and go running – the response of others is not
    your responsibility. Regardless of the specific activity, decide what traditions are most important
    to you and then fight for them if you have to.
    7. Don’t let the Cost Ruin Christmas: Christmas can get expensive fast! Don’t let the stress over
    the cost of Christmas ruin your time with loved ones. Big families can draw names so that you
    only have to buy a gift for one person rather than many. Talk to your family about doing an
    activity together rather than buying traditional presents. Write a heartfelt letter to everyone in
    your family; that doesn’t cost a dime and will probably be everyone’s favorite gift. At the end of
    the day, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, and I truly believe most people don’t care about the
    money put into a gift nearly as much as they care about the sentiment.
    8. Humor: As stressful as Christmas has the potential to be, don’t forget to laugh! Trying to find the
    humor in any situation can significantly lower anxiety levels. Sometimes the only thing to do is to
    turn that super annoying thing into something that’s highly entertaining. Make jokes, make
    games, and make faces, whatever it takes – just try to laugh!
    9. Consider Taking Supplements: If all else fails, consider taking some supplements to get you
    through the season! There is no shame in getting a little help from medication; however, the
    majority of people don’t need something that strong; for those people, I recommend supplements.
    GABA is an amino acid that calms the basal ganglia – the anxiety center of the brain. Taking a
    few hundred milligrams of GABA during highly stressful seasons of life can be extremely
    helpful. If you find that you are more likely to get depressed rather than anxious during the
    holidays, consider taking a high dosage Vitamin D supplement, St. John’s Wart, or SAMe. I
    personally recommend Dr. Amen’s line of supplements which can be found at
    as well as the Country Life brand which can be purchased through You may also
    find some serious stress relief through certain essential oils. Check out my post “essential oils
    101” for more info.
10. Above All, Remember the Reason for the Season: Unfortunately, stress and anxiety is a big
 problem for a lot of people during the Christmas season. But if Christ could speak directly to you,
 I feel pretty confident that He would say something to the effect of “Hey, it’s all okay, slow down,
 take a breath, and remember why this season is so sweet, remember what I did for you”. Don’t
 lose the forest for the trees – don’t get so caught up in the details of Christmas that you lose sight
 of why it is so incredibly important. A loving God sent His only Son to save the world. As stress
 levels rise, take a deep breath and focus on THAT.
I hope this post was helpful for you, I know that I personally utilize several of these strategies to get
me through all kinds of stressful events. Anxiety, whether it is severe or not, is a pretty universal problem;
the key to handling anxiety successfully is to have a plan and to enact that plan before you get
overwhelmed. So before the madness hits, take action! This is a time to reflect, enjoy, and immerse
yourself in the faithfulness of the Father. I pray we all do more of that this year.
Post by Ashley Black


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