Reduce Stress this Christmas

by Mary Kay Turner

In case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is coming soon. Will it bring too much stress your way this year? What causes stress in your life at this time of year–not enough money? Too much to do? Too little time? What can you do to make it less stressful?

Being honest about your limitations of time and money can help reduce stress. You can and should make careful decisions about what you will do and will not do, what you will and will not buy during the holiday season.

Nearly all of us have a limited amount of money to spend. It is not necessary to spend more than you can afford. You can be honest and tell your children, your family, and your friends that you need to spend less money for gifts this year. If you state your limits and listen to what your friends and family members are saying, you can talk about some options and agree on some different ways to show you care. Some options are: not to exchange gifts this year, to draw names so each person gets one gift, to set a maximum amount for gifts, or to give money to a favorite charity in honor of a loved one.

A very wise friend recently told me that she has asked her children and grandchildren for “anything that money can’t buy.” One thing she really enjoys is time people spend with her. What a wonderful way to give a precious gift and at the same be blessed by the wisdom an older relative or friend or the energy and fresh perspective a younger one has to offer.

Carrying a hurt or a grudge can cause stress that can even bring on health problems. It might be the right time to make a decision to forgive someone–for you and your health. You can decide to talk about the problem. If it seems too difficult, you can invite someone to help create a safe atmosphere where each person can be respected and have the opportunity to tell the story, can listen to the other person’s story, and discuss possible solutions to help restore the relationship. Mediation Services of Adams County can provide assistance for this.

Being together with too much family and trying to do too many things can be a source of stress. You can decide to spread your celebrations over several days or a week so you aren’t so frazzled trying to do too much in one or two days. Families can alternate being together on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve or even another day, like a Sunday or New Year’s Day. It can also be less costly and less stressful to share responsibility for special meals. You can let other people contribute some of the food. That way you might even be able to enjoy yourself and your family.

Mediation Services of Adams County will present training in mediation the weekends of March 25-27 and April 1-2, 2011. For more details, please contact Mediation Services of Adams County at 717-334-7312, or check out our website,

Have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad or Happy Kwanza, and a wonderful, peaceful beginning to 2011!

Mary Kay Turner is a teacher who is also a board member, volunteer mediator and trainer for Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC).