Let's Get Psyched: Honey, Let's Put Up The Tree!

by Randy Kiel | November 12, 2019

Deacon Randy Kiel

“Honey, let’s put up the tree.”

“But it’s not even Thanksgiving, let alone Advent!”

Instantly, there is stress. Throughout the year, there are expected as well as unexpected stressors that come into our lives. Even the pressure to live a “stress-free life” causes stress.

Now, enter the holidays. It is important to accept, that for most, the holiday season increases stress.

This may seem to some to be a negative statement, but it is actually positive.

Acceptance is one of the first steps in reducing stress, including the acceptance of what is here and what is happening.

The second step is to express the presence of stress, but be careful with whom you choose to share your stress. No matter how well intended some may be, comments such as, “Let it go,”  “Don’t be so stressed,” and “Just focus on the true reason for the season” will only add to a person’s internal broiling stress.

Not to mention that the spiritual shame from that last comment is now on top of the stress.

While we long for all the joy that the holiday traditions can bring, joy will also be accompanied by other emotions and stressors. Whether from bumper to bumper traffic, spending too much money, perfect present searches, or even family get-togethers, stress will not only happen, it will inevitably multiply.

Stress affects our emotions, but it is not an emotion; it is a physiological matter. It is a condition of distress happening within a person’s body.

What happens to us when we experience stress?

The chemical composition of our stable brain becomes altered. Our coping mechanisms, whether functionally or dysfunctionally programmed, begin to take over. With stress, we can become vulnerable and sometimes unstable. If one is prone to anxiety or depression, it is time to be on high alert with self-awareness. While it is said that faith can move mountains, stress can turn depression and anxiety into volcanoes.

Be sure to identify what you know about yourself and your stressors. If visiting family brings too much stress, then limit the interaction and know that you are taking care of yourself. 

Now try to resist the temptation to feel holiday guilt. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the wrong conversations during these days. Let the holidays be what they are intended to be: one, a day of giving thanks for all the blessings and the other, a celebration of the birth of the only person that has ever brought his own gift to the party. This is the gift of salvation. Salvation is our ultimate remedy for our ultimate stress.

If stress causes you to overeat, overdrink, overreact, overspend, or overindulge in any fashion, then plan a time to do this indulgence after the stress subsides, not during it.

Whichever the vice, you’ll find that you will not indulge nearly as much as you may have earlier if responding to a plan instead of a stressful impulse.

 Stress may also come from loneliness during your holiday season.

It is valuable to acknowledge your loneliness with someone and it is even more important to express this in prayer.

We are all spiritually lonely deep within, simply due to our natural longing for the Father. Know what the rest of your loneliness is from. It may be from the melancholy of the season, too many somber Christmas carols, or the loss of loved ones throughout your life.

Loneliness is normal.

It hurts because we love; therefore, find ways to give love to people in your every day.

Keep loving!

Let’s remember Christ’s words of comfort. “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” We always have companionship with Christ.

With these thoughts, may we manage our upcoming holiday stress a bit more healthily when hearing those words that inevitably ring out the end of this joyous season,

“Honey, let’s take down the tree!”

God bless you in this holiday season.

Randy Kiel

Randy Kiel is the founder of Kardia Counseling and is a deacon serving at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa. To connect with Deacon Randy, email randy@kardiacounseling.com.