How to Say “No” to Stress So You Can Say “Yes” to the Rest of Christmas

Is Christmas stressful for you? I can identify.  In fact, when I sat down to think about it, ten top Christmas stresses immediately came to mind.Top10_banner

  1. Expectations. Whether it’s from our culture, our family or ourselves, trying to meet expectations can be very stressful.
  2. Finances. Enough said.
  3. Family Dynamics. For some, family is a huge part of the joy of Christmas. But for others, it can be their most painful and difficult Christmas reality.
  4. Busyness. We all say it. We all know it. Christmas is crazy busy. Whew.
  5. Grief and Loss. From death to divorce, Christmas accentuates harsh realities.
  6. Changing Traditions. Due to other factors, what was is slipping away, and we struggle to keep up or adjust.
  7. Loneliness. Kids are gone, or with mom/dad, or . . . whatever.
  8. Traveling. Okay, maybe if you’re traveling to Hawaii or Costa Rica it’s not too stressful. But many brave winter driving conditions to reach families hours away. Can you say “stressful”?
  9. Hosting and Cooking. Or maybe you aren’t driving. You’re the host and 25 people are descending on your home for a week of feasting. And you will be doing a lot of cooking, cleaning and hosting. (And if you don’t think that’s stressful, then you need to get off the couch this Christmas and get helping in the kitchen.)
  10. Work. Days off are great, but what if your job keeps demanding the same output even if you are on days off? Or maybe you are working through Christmas and are trying to still make Christmas special for your family in spite of it?

That’s my top ten. What would you add? How many are true for you? 

But does Jesus want his birthday celebration to be the most stressful part of your year? I don’t think so. Taking off of Jesus’ invitation to come to him for rest, let’s use REST as an acronym for four steps we can take to say “no” to stress and say “yes” to the REST of Christmas.

How to say “No” to Stress so you can say “Yes” to the Rest of Christmas

R – Remember What Matters. In the midst of all the craziness, take 30 minutes with a blank sheet of paper and write down what is really important about Christmas to you. Is it celebration? Family? That your kids experience generosity and service? That you invite friends to experience the story of Christmas at your church? What is it?  And then, based on what really matters, go to the next step.

E – Eliminate the Extra. That’s right. If you know what really matters, start deleting the extra stuff that isn’t central. Maybe it’s an “obligation” party or extra decorating. Maybe it’s that Christmas concert or that stressful Christmas letter. Ditch it if it doesn’t support what really matters.

S – Simplify What’s Left. But you can’t cut everything. So examine what’s left and ask: How can I make this less stressful and more simple? Ask people to potluck the Christmas meal that’s overwhelming you. Buy 10 copies of your best book of 2013 and give it to all your friends.  Send a Christmas email instead of a hard copy. Stay home this Christmas. What is it for you?

T – Take that Next Step. Which means, what’s the next step I have to take to make this happen? Start back up at the top, right now, and Remember what really matters. Then move through Eliminate and Simplify. Then do what you need to do. Call Jim to cancel that party. Talk to the family about not doing all that driving. Send out that email to Kate declining that invitation. Just do it.

I hope that helps. Christmas should be an experience of the joy of Jesus’ birth. May it be just that for you this year.

What stresses you out the most about Christmas?
What have you found most helpful for experiencing the joy of Christmas?


Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. – Jesus, Matthew 11:28