How to Find Peace During the Holidays


Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Katie Donovan

For some Christmas is a whirlwind of stress and then leaves a feeling of emptiness in its wake.  For others it’s a feeling of dread of small talk, awkward situations, and traffic.  It can leave an uneasy feeling of disquiet and leave people yearning for peace.

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For some Christmas is a joyous time but there are moments when you wonder how it could simpler, and more meaningful.  Whatever you’re feeling at the holiday season, we may all need a little more peace. 

Here are some tips to help you do that.

Let Go of the Perfect Christmas

A lot of stress during the holidays is about mindset.  If I want to get the perfect gift for someone and can’t figure it out, I’ll get stressed.  I might want to make the perfect meal or make sure everyone’s happy.  I may find the perfect gift or I may not.  I may make a fabulous meal or forget a few things.  I may make lasting memories or accidently offend a few people.  

I can’t control how other people feel or react to the holiday.  However, I can certainly do my best and be okay with that.  It’s the idea of having a perfect Christmas that causes the stress, so if I take that burden off my shoulders, the stress goes away.  We can only control how we feel and if we’re stressed, other people may read that and be affected, but if we portray a truly calm demeanor, it can help others too.

I remember the Christmas when we burned the roast.  I could hear my cousin and my dad talking downstairs. “Oh no, oh no,” my cousin was saying, worrying the meal was ruined.  We lucked out; it was definitely charred on the outside, but still wonderful on the inside.  Things weren’t perfect but we were able to laugh about it and continue to joke about it years later.

So whatever you worry needs to be perfect, let it go.  Be good to yourself too during the holiday season.

Let Go of the Negative Emotions

It’s October and the Christmas décor goes up and you groan.  The ads start playing and you want to throw the remote at the tv.  The list of things you need to do hangs over your head, ready to pour down stress.  Early darkness, snow, and icy wind dampen your spirits. 

I felt these things too.  It made the holidays not as pleasant and that bothered me.  Then one year I decided to think positive, to not let those things bother me because really it was a choice to let it bother me.  Christmas décor and tv ads so early: ah who cares.  Christmas to do list adding up: one thing at a time to make someone else’s day.  It’ll be fun. If someone said something negative, I just listened or said I didn’t mind.  Yes it gets dark early but I put up white lights so it felt cozy and I didn’t mind the dark.  I started traditions just around the holidays to give me something to look forward to.  Each time I thought about how bitter it was outside I said a prayer for those who were less fortunate and was thankful for a warm house and clothing. 

Negative emotions can also be about feeling hurt.  Maybe there’s someone in your life you need to forgive because it’s gnawing at you, filling you with negativity and making it hard to enjoy the holidays.  People let us down, say mean things, and can hurt us.  We can choose to be resentful or we can choose to let it go.  When I felt hurt by someone what really helped me was thinking about how I wanted them to be happy.  Each time a negative feeling reared its ugly head, I told myself I wanted them to be happy.  Eventually I found I had let go of the resentment. 

It’s certainly not easy, especially if positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to you, but it could help.

Remember What Christmas Means to You

Sometimes in the craziness of the season it’s hard to stop and really reflect on what Christmas means to us.  Maybe it’s time to celebrate traditions.  Maybe it’s a time to share memories with friends and family.  Maybe it’s a time to help others.  Maybe it’s a time to celebrate religious beliefs.  Or maybe you’re struggling with what Christmas means to you.

Taking some quiet time to reflect could help you refocus during the holidays.  If Christmas is about traditions, but the gifts have gone crazy, maybe having a talk as a family might help to simplify Christmas next year.  You can see my post here about simplifying Christmas. If Christmas is about friends and family, maybe focusing on the little details that will make them feel loved and appreciated will be more important than what you give them: photos from the past, little notes, or games with questions about the past and knowing each other.  My Gram loved the simple gift of gulmpkis and sharing them with her and my dad loved the scrapbook of poems, stories, and pictures of his brother.    If Christmas is about helping others maybe you can create a goal for yourself of how to volunteer more next year.  I have ideas here on what to do in the Upper Valley.  If Christmas is about your faith, maybe you spend more time reflecting on the Bible, watching faith based movies, time at church, or helping others.    Lastly, if you’re unsure of the meaning of Christmas or feel conflicted, think about what brings you joy and peace.  Maybe you want to stay at home but you have to see family.  Maybe you want to watch sports and everyone else wants to do something else.  Maybe there’s a compromise that can be made. 

Christmas means so many things to so many people.  Knowing your actions directly impact others during this holiday season can feel overwhelming, but peace during the holiday season starts with you. 

So to have a peaceful Christmas, start with creating a peaceful heart.

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