With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it’s normal to feel a little stressed during the holidays. But if your plans and preparations are pushing you beyond your limits, it can lead to burnout which is harmful to your health.
If your stress is starting to steal your joy, Dr. Linda Mintle says it’s time to change a few things…starting with your own expectations.
“One of the things that puts a lot of stress on people that we really don’t think much about is that often we have unrealistic expectations. So we set up the stress sometimes, thinking that we have to do everything, or we have to somehow be something that we’re not, or we have to tackle every relationship problem all at once in our families.”
“So part of solving that might be doing some simple things like looking at your expectations, changing those expectations so they’re more realistic, and then begin to say no to a few things.”
In addition to setting boundaries on your time, Dr. Linda recommends watching your eating and sleeping habits, and finding time for physical exercise to reduce your stress. She says one overlooked resource for handling stress is support from other people.
“When you’re in a very serious stressful situation, you might need the support of other people.”
“Support is one of the things that people can get for free, and it’s so tied to people being resilient in times of stress. We all need to take a good look (and ask ourselves), ‘Who is in my circle of friends that I can call on during difficult times and get some support?’ And of course, we’ve got God that we can always call on. He’s a help in the times of trouble.”
And we don’t have to wait for times of crisis to start building encouraging relationships. The perfect time to start is now–and the perfect place to start is your church.
“Support is one of the reasons that the body of Christ is so important. I hear a lot of people say, “I don’t need to go to church, I can watch church online and do it in the privacy my own home.” But you’re missing this whole body of relationships that you can develop and then when you do get into a pinch, you’ve been there for someone else, you’ve developed a relationship, they know you–people step in.”
“We need to do this all through the year–develop those relationships and those support systems–because it is probably the number one thing that you see across the literature for any kind of stressful situation, health problem, work situation, relationship problems with people. When there’s somebody to talk with, to be there, to encourage you, to lift you up, to give you hope through the Scripture when you’re feeling so down and disillusioned, those people become so important in our lives.”
Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker and national expert on relationships and the psychology of food, weight and body image. She can be heard on The Dr. Linda Mintle Show on the Faith Radio Network.How to handle holiday stress