‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…the kids were running wild because they couldn’t wait to open all their presents! Does this sound familiar? I was watching the Grinch the other night (Jim Carey version) and little Cindy Lou Who asks the Grinch Santa Clause, “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” The Grinch Santa Clause replied, “Presents!” Are presents what bring all the joy and happiness this time of year?
Research studies show that death rates drop the week of Christmas and then spike the week after. The highest death rates in the world regardless of race, wealth or country of origin happen the week after Christmas. How can a box wrapped in shiny paper under a spruce tree have such a huge impact on our health?
Most people agree Christmas is too commercialized and people go into debt every year to ensure presents are under the tree. But why do we spend so much money this time of year to buy gifts? Whether you believe in the Bible or not, if you celebrate Christmas, you are celebrating the birth of Christ. And as the scripture reads, on the night Jesus was born, he was visited by 3 wise men that brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Our modern tradition of gift giving at Christmas comes from the presents the wise men gave Jesus and the idea that God gave his only begotten son. So, following tradition we should give presents as a way to celebrate…yes and no.
‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman is a must read for anyone in any type of relationship (spouse, parent, friend, family). The back cover reads, “Between busy schedules and long days, expressing love can fall by the wayside. We forget to compliment, to give gifts “just because,” to linger in our embrace.” I contend the true meaning of Christmas is LOVE; showing it, saying it and hearing it-clearly. Chapman writes of 5 different ways to express love that resonate differently with different people. They include words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Knowing the primary way your loved ones express their love can make your relationships extraordinary. Gifts are just one way of expressing love, not the only way.
If you haven’t already figured out why I am writing about Christmas, here it is. Emotional stress is not all in our head, it can manifest physically as indicated by the spike in death rates. If we don’t take care of our emotional well being, we will never truly be healthy and happy. So, what can you do to improve your well being this Christmas and all year round?
Here are 6 strategies to reduce stress this Holiday Season:
- Be present in the here and now- practice ridding your mind of distractions and negative thoughts. Focus on being present, not on presents!
- Be grateful for all you have- say 3 things you are grateful or thankful for daily.
- Give, love and serve out of abundance- don’t buy Christmas presents this year make them yourself; or do a secret Santa by picking a name out of a hat and only giving one gift with a price cap (i.e. $50); or make a meal for a family in need and deliver it to their door.
- Cherish time with family and friends-not just over the holidays, but schedule it in every month all year round.
- Pick up a copy of ‘The 5 Love Languages’- read it and then gift it to a loved one. Click the link above to take the test and find your primary love language.
- Tell someone you love them- don’t wait do it now!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our family to yours!