Holidays:  Celebration or Stress?

How to Reclaim the Holy Days

By Karin Leonard

Remember the childhood days of excitedly anticipating Christmas morning? How does that compare to your experience of holidays today?  These days, the holidays are often associated with more pain than pleasure.  Thanksgiving brings memories of overeating, and Christmas songs remind of crowded shopping malls.  Where has all the magic gone?

Holidays were intended as “Holy Days” – special occasions with spiritual and social significance.  The original meaning of Thanksgiving or Christmas may or may not be outdated, but surely there can be more to these occasions than obsessing over a turkey or frenzied holiday shopping.  How about making this year’s holidays a true celebration of gratitude, love and renewal of spirit?

Transform Stress

Ongoing pressure can weaken your immune system, taxes your nerves and takes the joy out of life. During busy times it becomes crucial to schedule down time.  Exercising, taking hot baths, having a quiet cup of tea – anything that gives your adrenal glands a break and soothes your soul will help to replenish.

Make an inventory of what stresses you about the holidays and list possible solutions for each of these factors.  Set priorities – is it more important to get the perfect gift for everyone – or to be especially loving and peaceful during this time?

Relax Right Now

Nothing is more stressful than your very own mind.  Are you thinking of twenty items at once and holding your breath?  That would have a similar effect on your body as a tiger charging towards you…  Make a list of your to-do’s and focus on one thing at a time.  You can be quite busy, yet in a relaxed state of flow.  How you experience each moment – whether you are tense or tranquil – determines your level of stress more than the number of tasks.  And – remember to breathe…

Revisit Gift Giving

Isn’t it amazing that we live in a society where we have the luxury to worry about what to buy for whom, when people are starving all over the world?  Tremendous amounts of money are spent each year on wrapping paper alone.  I think it warrants a second look for us to make conscious choices about how we spend our money and energy.  What is the purpose of our gifts?  Consider alternatives which reduce your tension level and make you happy.  For the person who has everything donate money in their name to a good cause.

What about Food?

Holidays are associated with celebratory meals…and lots of them!  There is nothing wrong with special treats – as long as you feel at choice about them.  Make decisions ahead of time about how you want to relate to food this holiday season and beyond.  Nurture yourself in other ways besides eating. 

Reclaim Meaning

How you experience the holidays depends on the significance you attach to them.  Do you hold preparation for this season as inspiring labor of love or draining obligation?  Sit down with your family and invent new traditions.  Explore how to deepen your connection with family and friends, peace and compassion, soul and spirit this holiday season.  The Holy Days are meant to be a time of reflection and renewal as we wait for the return of the light. Away from the commercial madness, spend a quiet evening by candle light, read enchanted stories to the kids and reclaim the magic of the season.

And as you reflect on 2015, begin to incubate your dreams for 2016.


Karin H. Leonard  is known for her compassionate, leading-edge and highly effective brand called InnerEvolution™, leading to quick results in life and career, while creating greater life-balance.  She has been in private practice in Santa Cruz for 25 years, integrating life coaching with hypnotherapy, NLP and a good dose of intuition. Office located in Santa Cruz. (831) 724-5400 ~ .


                         As published in Connection Magazine December 2015

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