Making your holidays joyful rather than stressful is up to you

Self, Family

Learn how your emotions, physical activities, and diet can make the difference for a joyful holiday

The holiday season can be full of joy or full of stress, which is for you?  The difference between finding joy or feeling stressed during the holidays can come from the areas of emotion, physical activities, and diet. 

How you deal with your emotions and how you emotionally deal with the holidays can determine whether you have joy or stress during that time.  For example, if you have relationship difficulties with family members or past hurtful memories, the holidays have a way of making you feel worse.  I remember a woman who felt generally happy through the year but had a hard time looking forward to Christmas.   With professional help she remembered a childhood memory of her father leaving on Christmas day.  Even though she suppressed the memory, the emotion from that day was stirred up every year until she was able to resolve the original feelings and forgive her father.  If you have repeated negative feelings during the holiday season I suggest you speak with a professional counselor to work through those feelings.  It is normal to have difficulties in life, but you have a choice how you decide what to do with the emotions from those issues. 

The holidays can also become a never ending amount of planning and preparations that can wear you out. If you are too busy to enjoy the holidays, you are too busy.  This is especially true if you take on the world’s responsibilities, have a perfectionist personality, rarely become satisfied, or cannot say no.  These traits often make it hard to enjoy the holidays because you become exhausted or resentful because people will not take on their share of responsibility.  If you cannot relax, become too busy, have difficulty allowing others to help, or nothing is good enough I suggest you meet with a professional counselor to help you learn how to enjoy this time of year.   

One of the areas that can greatly affect us is how our diet.  During the holidays we tend to consume more sweets and pastas.  In fact, we often use food as a way to comfort ourselves from emotional stress.  The more stress we feel, the more food we eat- especially sugary foods.  The more sugar we consume the more our blood sugar spikes, making us feel “good.”  Within an hour or two our blood sugar begins to drop which can create feelings of blah and lower energy levels.  Depending on the amount of sugar you consume your blood sugar level can drop to where you feel, glooming, grumpy, unmotivated, and emotionally depressed.  Physically you may feel headaches, nauseous, anxious, and jittery.  During the low period you may crave more sugar to where the swing repeats itself. 

Balancing our mood swings has much to do with changing our diet.  According to Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of, Food & Mood, she writes, The link between food and mood is cyclical.  If poor eating habits are the initial problem, then depression, mood swings, poor concentration, or fatigue can develop as a result of dietary deficiencies and excesses, which in turn result in more poor food choices.  If you have struggled with your diet for some time, there is often other underlying issues that need to be addressed.  I suggest talking to your physician and a professional counselor to explore these issues.

The holidays are a time to give thanks and celebrate what God has done for us. As you focus on giving thanks for the true reason of the holiday season, you will begin to enjoy more and stress less.  You deserve to have a great time during the holidays and not allow past issues to get in the way.   The amount of joy or stress you experience is in your control more than you realize. 

Craig Miller is a counselor with Masterpeace Counseling, in Tecumseh, MI. visit, and a speaker, author, visit,