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Holiday Stress? Stick to the Plan and Enjoy Better Health

Don't let stress overwhelm you during the holiday season!

Do the holidays have you feeling overburdened? Well, I have good news for you. You’re going to be just fine – if you develop a plan and stick to it.

I recall approaching a frustrating holiday season without a plan to accomplish what needed to be done, and whom to spend time with, and found myself spending time with friends instead of family. The result? I felt rudderless and unhappy with myself over the poor choices I’d made.

I needed to find what was missing in my life, so I delved into ways to find satisfaction during the holiday season. What I learned was that I needed to connect the season’s activities with deeper, more meaningful ideas, which would allow me to connect with my spiritual being, and provide a basis for a sound holiday plan.

Recently I found this observation in Dr. Roberta Lee’s The SuperStress Solution, that “people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life,” most helpful. Why? She further explains, “They’re better able to cope with stress, they heal faster from illness, and they experience increased benefits to their health and well-being. On an intellectual level, spirituality connects you to the world, which in turn enables you to stop trying to control things all by yourself. When you feel part of a greater whole, it’s easy to understand that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in life.”

You may ask: Why will using these ideas work for me?

In Handbook of Religion and Health, Harold Koenig, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Duke University, gives three good reasons why these ideas work. “First, religion and faith provide social support, a consistent element of happiness and good health. Second, religion reinforces a belief system, people bond when they hold common opinions and beliefs. Third, religion and spirituality do what a parent or supervisor at work does: give you ten laws to abide by. And, although you may not like the regulations set upon you and try to break a few, you are glad they exist, because for the most part, your life runs more smoothly when you follow them.”

So it turns out that the basic idea is to connect with the spiritual dimension first, “then get a plan for the holidays” and follow it.

How can you avoid a holiday plan that doesn’t work? The following suggestions from the Mayo Clinic staff (“Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping“) can be helpful and supportive:

“Be open and honest about your feelings of sadness or joy. Feelings of loneliness or isolation should be addressed, not ignored. Don’t feel guilty if everything doesn’t work out the way you planned. Set aside your differences and find things you have in common with others. Watch your budget limitations and include gifts from your own hands and heart.”

These suggestions for making life more meaningful during the holiday season are not unimportant. I’ve also found a biblical statement by Jeremiah especially helpful when striving for a happy, stress-free holiday: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, said the Lord.”

I’m looking forward to comfortably enjoying this season because I know that both my physical and spiritual needs will be met by sticking to my holiday plan. I hope you will develop your own spiritual plan for stress-free enjoyment of the holidays!

Don lives in Laguna Beach with his wife and they are both Christian Science practitioners. He brings his years serving the public in education to his work as a liaison of Christian Science, where he maintains contacts with the media and legislative offices. Don blogs on spirituality and health and you can read more at www.csinsocal.com.

Article first published in Blogcritics

photo © GLOW IMAGES

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Charles December 13, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Dr. Koenig's three reasons (social network, belief system, laws to abide by) may well provide tools to cope. However, it doesn't mean there is any basis for the roots of these reasons. If believing 2 + 2 = 5 helps someone cope, then, in one sense, that is good, but it doesn't mean there is any basis for that belief. Happiness trumps reality. If someone is happier believing in the stories they've been brainwashed with, then that is better than being unhappy under any other circumstances. "You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe." - Carl Sagan "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason" - Benjamin Franklin "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology." - Thomas Jefferson "If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little Electric Chairs around their necks instead of crosses" - Lenny Bruce

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