Heart Choices: Stress, Depression and the Holidays -->

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Stress, Depression and the Holidays

Christmas should be “the most wonderful time of the year". After all, isn't that what the song says?

But for too many people, stress and depression can ruin this special time.

Have you ever set yourself up with...
  • Unrealistic expectations of the 'perfect' family get together?

  • RSVP'd to way too many parties?

  • Spent days and hours searching for just the right gift for everyone on your list?

  • Cleaned the house 'til it was spotless?

  • Baked way too many cookies, pies and cakes? Of course, you've got to taste them too.

  • Stayed up to all hours to finish decorating the house?
Isn't this supposed to be the time of year for peace and joy?

And what about getting in touch with the real reason we celebrate Christmas; the birth of Jesus?

I tried to pinpoint a few areas that often trigger stress and/or depression during this time of year.

Money issues: Love does not have to equal spending lots of money. Right now, finances are often a topic of discussion given our current economic crisis.

Maybe this is the year to consider adding a few new traditions? What about making gifts? Or volunteering with your children at the food bank or participating in the Shoe Box Ministry or some other local opportunity?

I remember when I was a child, we couldn't afford lots of expensive gifts. But our family was all together and we were thankful.

Relationships: Families consist of imperfect people who often spend more time together during this season. Tensions may be heightened with all this togetherness.

If someone close to you has died, this can be a very difficult time. My mom died almost four years ago and I miss her more at this time. I have so many fond memories of Christmas time spent with her.

Fatigue: Do you ever feel like this photo of my niece Katie? Exhausted from the strain of shopping, baking, cleaning, parties, your childrens' activities?

When you're tired, stress and depression can increase. The demands of the season, the overeating and lack of exercise can trigger more problems.

So, how will you deal with these potential trigger points this Christmas season?

Money, relationships and physical demands.

I'd love to hear any thoughts and suggestions you might share.

Debbie Petras
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  1. I make myself go to bed at a decent time NO MATTER what, I make myself just stop what I am doing. Then I try to make a list and complete the hardest ones first.

    For me sitting by my tree with the lights on relaxes me also =)

  2. Debbie,

    As much as this is the greatest time of the year for me...It is also a time of year when I struggle because of loss in my life too. I press in very close to the Lord...I stay in His Word and I try to keep focused on the Heavenlies.

    I also love what Laurel Wreath said about sitting by the tree with the lights on ... I do that a lot this time of year...I love the lights...I find them so soothing.

    ((hugs)) to you today, sweet friend.

  3. Great things to think about, I am trying to avoid each one, focusing on Jesus' birth is a great way to do that. Christmas will be tight this year but the love is stretched out and overflowing so the good times will still roll.

  4. I absolutely love Christmas! One thing I do to manage my time is I do most of my Christmas shopping the week after Christmas for the following Christmas. I start my Christmas list and mark all the gifts down (so I don't forget).
    Then, when September rolls around, I start wrapping. My goal is to be well on my way to completing my wrapping by Halloween. THis has been so great. I'm still busy, but it has cut down on that hectic feeling.

    We also have many ministry parties at our house and we worship together and sing Christmas songs about Jesus.

    I still have to allow a little grieving to come and go because I still miss my mom who died on Christmas day.

    I try to focus on Jesus, and not myself. It is fun to think of new ways to put Jesus in the center.

  5. Debbie, this is really good! Thanks for posting on something so many of us struggle with.

    Today I went shopping and came home empty-handed. I stressed myself out over money - couldn't make my mind up about the gifts I needed to buy, so later I have to go back and do it all over again. (I can get real OCD about selecting just the right gift!) LOL...hate to even admit this:-)

    But I do love this season! Playing soothing music, lighting a few candles, and sitting by the tree all help calm me. Reading the Word, and just laying out all my 'issues' before Him & letting Him renew me inwardly again and again, well..goes a long way towards keeping me in balance.♥

    Like Debra shared, I sense a lot of loss this time of year, so it's important for me to stay connected w/family & friends, and close to Him. Thank you for reminding me where to pinpoint sources of stress and not to let money worries rob the joy of this special season!

  6. Addicted to Charity.

    This might sound like an odd thing but I find that the elderly tend to commit themselves to lots of charity work at Christmas and therefore not having enough time to spend with their own families.

    One time we didn't get to have Christmas dinner until 9pm because Grandma was too busy making everyone elses Christmas special in the neighbourhood instead of spending time with us.

    Charity at this time of year is important but not as important as spending time family.

    What better gift is there than sharing the joy of charity in our own families?

  7. I love reading your comments and input on this subject.
    Laurel- Good advice about getting enough rest and also enjoying your tree.
    Debra- Loss can be so painful and this time of year seems to often open those hurts. Keeping your eyes on the Lord is best.
    Lisa- You have the right focus, for sure.
    God's Girl- I remember reading in your blog that you lost your mom and at such a young age of 60. I'm so sorry for your loss and understand how difficult Christmas can be without her. But it also sounds like you've brought new traditions into your home to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
    Philip- Thank you for your faithfulness in following my blog. You are such a kind man and I always enjoy reading your travel blog.
    Vicki- I know how you write much about allowing Christ to live through us instead of our flesh being in control. I've learned so much from you on this topic and I really appreciate that. The music,candles, getting into the Word helps us balance the rush of this season.
    L-Jay- You always add something of value to the comments. I love that you may have a unique angle on a topic. Your point is a good reminder to all of us who are focused on doing good things and forgetting about the being. In the Bible, Jesus said Mary chose best when she sat at His feet to listen while Martha was distracted with all of the details and activities of preparation. I hope to be more like Mary.

  8. Debbie
    I think that bible story explains things perfectly. God's house is a house of order. This does not mean that every dish is put away but instead it means every thing has a rightful place.
    We need to try to put things in the rightful place in our own lives. I feel that when we do this we will have more joy.

    (I have a habit of thinking about a topic for a long time - and usually the 'unique angle' is just the end of my jouney of thoughts...lol. It is nice to be challenged to think and participate - thank you.)

    God Jul!

  9. Dear Debbie,
    Bull's eye.
    I have lieed flat down more than one Christmas in the past.
    Mrs. Mac calls it overachieving.
    Now we are forced by nature (age that is) to slow down. Guess what; it's going to be a wonderful Christmas anyhow. *Cause everybody involved in the family celebration have come to the same conclusion.
    Christmas Eve, Norwegians celebrate Christmas Eve, we're for the first time ordered plenty of home-made catering Christmas food.
    This way we hope everybody can be able to go to church, no one staying home over the stove while the others are for high mass.
    We have no small children by Eve feast. Therefore we've decided to keep gifts to a minimum. More expensive perhaps, but not this huge heap..
    I wish us all a Silent, blessed Night.
    From Felisol

  10. I struggle with depression, especially when the days get shorter and oh, so grey. So it helps me to put up lots of Christmas lights, inside and out and leave them on all day.

    I also play a lot of music, make sure I stay connected to people, and say "no" a lot!


  11. Such a good article.

    This year will be the third year anniversary on the 22nd since my Peepaw passed away. In some ways it seems like yesterday and others seems so long since I've heard his voice and had his hug.

    I know I have to plan my time and write a list so I can see what needs to be done, make my priorities and not stress about it. When I see things getting marked off my list I feel better!

  12. Fatigue and money are my issues this year. With four kids, the budget is stretched. Thankfully, God's provision has allowed us some "savings" for the season. In addition, I'm not getting the proper rest. I've been at "life" since 4:30 this morning (not the norm). It's now 4:30 PM, and I'm done. Good thing Hallmark and the couch are on tap for the evening agenda.


  13. Debbie:
    You're a winner. Please email me your snail mail and check the blog to see the prize you've won. Congrats.



I love to read your comments! I know you have something to share so join in the conversation. And thank you for taking the time.

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