Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 18, 2008

Merry Stressmas

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. However, I know that for many, Christmas is the most stressful time of the year. So, here are a few thoughts on some of the stressors that can make Christmas difficult and what we can do to relieve the stress of the season.

S = Spending | Money, or the lack of it, is a huge stressor at Christmas. Those who spend money they have not yet earned put themselves under lots of pressure, especially when it comes time to start paying off those purchases. We can prevent unnecessary stress by looking for creative ways to spend less, shopping with a list, and sticking to a realistic budget. And, we can relieve lots of pressure if we’ll remember that Christmas is about presence and not presents. So, consider reducing stress by giving a gift of your talents and yourself. Bake cookies, rake leaves, shovel snow (except in Houston), volunteer at a shelter, or do other things that will bless others but won’t get you in financial debt.

E = Eating | Christmas is associated with parties, lots of goodies, and the inevitable weight gain. Many people eat to manage stress over the holidays and, as a result of eating more, their stress level rises. And, the abundance and availability of food make stress eaters vulnerable. Instead of taking a break from sensible eating or hiding the scale until the New Year, reduce stress by eating healthy and monitoring portions. Trying to stick to a diet can be tough and abandoning one will cost you, so try to at least maintain your weight during the holidays. Honestly, you will not die of hunger. So, step away from the cookies and reduce stress.

A = Anger | Anger is a dangerous stressor at this time of the year. Police and counselors know to gear up for incidences of violence that occur during the holidays. Christmas can bring out the best and yet accentuate the worst in people. Some people harbor more anger than good cheer at Christmas — anger produced by unresolved disagreements, offenses, betrayal, divorce, neglect, and abuse. Pressure produced by over-spending, over-eating, and over-commitment can also ignite anger. However, Christmas is about forgiveness and reconciliation. So, reduce stress by taking steps to work things out with others.

S = Schedule | Christmas can be anything but relaxing. People rush about shopping, baking goodies, going to church services and musicals, attending or hosting parties, traveling, and more. It’s easy to feel like a bird in a hurricane. We can reduce stress by learning to say “no.” We don’t have to attend every gathering or accept every holiday invitation or bake cookies for every party. Reduce stress by saying no. Saying no can liberate us to say yes to quiet and fun moments with family and friends.

O = Overachieving | Christmas is a stressful time for overachievers. Those who strive for holiday perfection put themselves and others under unnecessary pressure. Your home and decorations do not have to look like Martha Stewart’s. People will not think less of you or have you arrested if you scale back on the details that take so much time to complete. Think simplicity and function. Cook less and eat more leftovers. Reduce stress by taking the time you save and using it to enjoy the company of your family and friends.

N = Neglect | People who feel lonely throughout the year tend to feel even more lonely at Christmas. This year, hundreds of thousands of people will spend Christmas alone. Whether separated from others because of death, divorce, or distance, the stress produced by loneliness during the holidays can be overwhelming. If you are lonely, consider volunteering at a local shelter or nursing home. Doing something for others will relieve some of the stress of loneliness. And, if you are surrounded by family, consider inviting someone who is lonely to join you for a Christmas meal.

Finally, remember why we celebrate Christmas. Don’t allow the stress of the season to keep you from loving God and loving others and sharing the wonderful story of Jesus.

• • • • •

Note | Please take a moment to read One Less Gift and Reconsider Christmas.


  1. O,
    Good thinking. It is time for all of us to assess afresh the priorities not just of this wonderful season, but of our whole lives!
    And thanks for your friendship, help and encouragement in moving me a new direction

  2. Omar,

    I am still keep reading your post. ‘Merry Stressmas’ I keep trying to understand, and same times I realized that, many people could not do celebrating for the Christmas. For many reasons, it could be he is the only believer from his whole village, could be he is very new believer; there are so many reasons for this.

    I have counted by self yesterday, we have more than 500.00 families these people are do not having the celebrates that, people means. I have told my self and my people. genuine Christmas will celebrate from the hearts. Jesus Him self are look at there. don’t worry, be happy !


  3. Mortuza…

    Christians in America often forget that our fellow believers in Bangladesh (and other countries where Christians are persecuted) give all of their attention to Jesus at Christmas. Perhaps if we too had less we would give more attention to Jesus instead of to things at Christmas. Thanks for reminding us that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus from the heart and with all our heart.


  4. Thank you, Mortuza, for putting it into perspective. The beautiful people of Bangladesh will always have a special place in my heart. I am praying that you will have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior!

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