Article on Holiday Stress Relief

Three Keys to Holiday Stress Relief

by Aila Accad, RN, MSN

Do you ever wonder why we cram so many demands on ourselves into one short time period called ‘The Holidays’? One hectic holiday season my wonder turned into a poem.

Christmas Joy

I say and hear the words anew
each year at Christmas time
of brotherhood, of joy, and love
and Jesus born again.

The meaning’s hard to find at times
among the season’s trappings
dare I forget some cookies, guests,
presents, food or wrappings.

Where is the joy I ask myself
in Santa here so early,
in going shopping with a smile
returning mean and burly,

in stuffing the bird before the meal,
the stuffed people groaning after,
in giving a gift knowing deep down
it’s not quite what they wanted,

in being too drained for reaching out
no time for rest around…
They say that suicide is high
depression often found.

Where is the joy I ask myself
while drinking more dry wine,
I know it’s here to be found
soon as I get the time.

            Aila Accad

Since then, it is clear that focusing on accomplishing all the ‘stuff’ to set up the holiday doesn’t work. You already knew that. What is the solution to having too much to do and not enough time to set up a ‘perfect’ holiday? Here are three keys to unlocking the treasure of joy and meaning in any holiday.

1. Let go of ‘perfect’ holiday images. Images of the perfect holiday are set-ups for unrealistic expectations. ‘Currier & Ives’ images made up by advertising become models of holidays somewhere else with other people, who smile all the time and appreciate every little nice thing you do. Whether it is Christmas or Valentine’s Day, images of love and joy are not the real experience. These are models or pictures pointing to a possible experience. Focusing on achieving the image rather than the experience itself is a set-up for disappointment.

2. Decide what is important to you. What is most meaningful and important to you about the holiday, the food, gifts, decorations, connection with others? Focus your limited time and energy on the qualities that are most meaningful to you. You will find that many of the activities you thought were important do not contribute to the outcome you want. As you simplify or eliminate some of the holiday trappings, meaningful moments have more space to shine into your experience.

3. Focus on the Present. Every moment of preparation is a moment of love and gratitude taking form. Realize the holiday is not a goal or destination. Even though there is a designated date for celebration, it is in the moments of loving joy that contribute to creating that day where your holiday is lived moment by moment.

May letting go of false images, simplifying activities and being present moment by moment create holiday experiences of joy, peace, love and the meaning you cherish in your heart.

© 2008 Aila Accad

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