Stress: The Grinch That Steals Your Christmas Spirit

christmasThe holiday season is upon us again, fa la la la la, la la la la.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”… but also the most stressful.

Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, we reconnect with family and friends to celebrate the Season of Rebirth and Peace. The spirit of giving and receiving sets the tone for the occasion.

Your children are filled with excitement and expectation for new toys, smart phones, iPads and the latest technology. You just can’t disappoint them.

You want to please your children, but you worry about overspending or that cutting back may diminish the reward of their priceless smiles.

And Moms…you carry the load for making everybody happy. You set the frenetic pace to get everything done and you are off and running. You start with the endless decisions about what to get everyone on your ever-expanding holiday list. Then worry that you may have left someone out, or repeat what you gave them last year…if you can only remember what you gave them last year.

Next comes all the shopping. Stores, crows, lines, or hours glued to your computer to find the perfect gift. Rushing around to get it all done. You sit in traffic, often going nowhere. Your mind is racing. You are exhausted. But there’s always more to do: wrapping, baking, holiday concerts, office parties.

Finally, though, there’s a moment to relax. That glass of wine or eggnog might calm the savage beast and subdue the frenzy for a few minutes. You may find even that for a moment, you feel the spirit of the season when you hear the familiar refrain of, “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

But it’s hard stay peaceful for very long. Because this season, there’s a cloud of fear hanging over our nation. The looming presence of violence can sap your faith and make you feel unsafe, vulnerable, and all the more anxious and stressed. And then there’s still that tree to decorate, a holiday dinner to prepare and cook, and…relatives.

Next thing you know, your head is spinning, your heart is pounding, and your blood pressure and adrenaline levels are through the roof. When you do go to bed, you can’t sleep – your head is spinning. So you get up the next day and keep on going… running on empty.

Maxed out, stressed out, wound tight but still upright…barely… your enthusiasm has run out. It becomes impossible to be in the moment.

It is then that you realize that the real “Grinch that stole Christmas” in today’s world is STRESS.

The bottom line? The holidays are about presence – not presents.

But how DO you manage to stay present, and to keep your spirit of peace and joy alive throughout the holidays


Before the holidays, is the time to set the right tone. How can you do that? Some ideas:

  • Ask for help! Remove your supermom cape and keep it off.
  • Determine to lighten your load and stick to it.
  • Delegate and share your responsibilities with family and friends.
  • Replace stressful driving, lines and traffic by shopping online.
  • Engage your whole family in decorating the tree and home.
  • Set a reasonable menu for your holiday dinner. You don’t need a turkey, ham, AND a “roast beast!”
  • Ask everyone joining you for dinner to bring side dishes and desserts.


Throughout the holidays, it’s also essential that you take time out to relax, unwind and bring forth your very best. Some proven ways:

  • Take a yoga class and stretch out instead of stressing out.
  • Exercise: Run, walk, swim, or go to the gym.
  • Meditate: Meditation restores inner peace and allows you to come home to yourself. You’ll be more focused and energized.


Before gatherings, try visualizing a celebration filled with love and laughter. And try these other ideas to help keep the tone joyful and positive:

  • Celebrate the joy of being present as well as opening the presents.
  • Play holiday background music and sing holiday songs together.
  • Stay connected. Limit discussions of politics, negative news and “what’s
    wrong with the world.”
  • No cellphones, unless it’s a group call to loved ones who can’t be there.
  • Be mindful that you don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.
  • Feel the love and be grateful for having one another.

(My secret tip: hang lots of mistletoe and send all arguments there to be resolved!)

This holiday season, be the peace and love, and count your blessings!



A very Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all.

~ Demo DiMartile


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