Posted by: kathryngraves | November 18, 2015


Thanksgiving is next week! Yikes! And then the mad rush to Christmas begins. I am so not ready. I have more to do this week than I can say grace over, as they say in the south. But I think Southerners might have been onto something when they coined that phrase.

Is your entire extended family coming to your house for dinner at Thanksgiving? Will you have to listen to Uncle So-and-So tell the same story he tells at every family gathering for the umpteenth time? Do Cousin “To Top It All” and Cousin “You Should Have Seen” compete every year and get bent out of shape if each doesn’t receive more attention than the other? Do Aunt “Whisper Behind Your Back” and Aunt “Tattle Tale” slice and dice everyone else with their sharp words? Do you get a headache just thinking about your family dynamics?


We all know we’re supposed to limit stress in our lives, but sometimes we just can’t help over-exposure to it. The least stressful option is often to go endure the stress for one day. The problem is, we have two such days for families in a month. And in between them come office parties and assorted other events we’re expected to attend. Those dynamics are often as bad or worse than our family quirkiness.

What’s a person to do? There are ways to deal with stress that don’t include avoidance. We can not only survive the holidays, but emerge into the new year relatively unscathed. I have discovered some tactics you can adopt that make a huge difference.

Go ahead – eat. Just don’t over-eat. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet with all the tempting sweets surrounding us. My motto is 80/20. Eat right most of the time and allow for moments of indulgence. The one thing I make sure of is that I avoid “sugar-free” and “gluten-free” items. If I’m going to eat breads or sweets, I’m going to eat them. Portion control is the key. I plan ahead if I know I’m attending an event with lots of dessert. The rest of the day I eat light, making sure to include a good salad for lunch. At the event, I eat part of the dessert, not all of it. That way I don’t feel deprived. After all, nothing ever tastes as good as the first few bites. It helps to tell a friend that you don’t plan to eat the entire dinner and dessert before you leave home. Ask her to text you afterward to see if you managed to follow through.

Supplement. When our schedules get crazy, our normal routine flies out the window and we don’t eat what we should, so our nutrient levels tilt out of whack. Magnesium is an important mineral that many of us don’t get enough of. Adding 400 mg./day will help relax muscles kinked by stress and aid in sleeping through the night. My favorite way to add this nutrient is an effervescent powder added to a hot mug of water. It tastes good and gives almost instant results.

Vitamin C can help relieve the severity and duration of a cold. A good probiotic can keep our digestive systems running smoothly and aid in nutrient absorption. Peppermint can calm a stomach upset when you gave in to temptation and ate too much.

Run away! We might not be able to run away from our responsibility to attend events, but we can run at the gym. Maintaining your exercise regimen during the month of December is critical. Cortisol is the stress hormone. Exercise supresses Coritsol. Exercise not only keeps stress in check, it releases the feel-good endorphins. Running is the best producer of endorphins, but any high-intensity activity will do. No matter what, protect your work-out schedule as if your life depended on it. Because it very well might.

Pray. You may think prayer is what to do during a crisis. Yes, we should, but we also need to pray before a crisis hits. No, we shouldn’t pray that Aunt “Tattle Tale” has a car break-down that prevents her from attending the family gathering. We need to pray scripture over others who annoy us or who intend to wound us.

One of my favorites is Isaiah 43. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine…” Own this verse. We don’t have to worry ahead of time about what somebody might say or not say. You are secure in Christ. He owns you. He has redeemed you. He calls you by your name. He will take care of you.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…” You won’t go through the holiday season alone. Not even the waters of grief can keep Jesus away from you. Jesus will go with you to the darkest place. He is already there to comfort you.

“And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you…” The river of anxiety, the flood-stage stream of depression, the tsunami of family conflict – Jesus will not allow you to be destroyed by these things.

“When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned,nor shall the flame scorch you…” In other words, no permanent damage will result from what you go through at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fiery trials refine us into a beautiful reflection of Jesus Christ. If He is our focus, we can walk with grace through whatever situations we face.

The medical profession has stated that meditation is a known stress-buster. If simply being quiet and thinking is effective, just imagine what prayer will do. Calling on the Creator of the universe who stands ready to help fills me with peace and confidence.

Peace, grace, confidence. These are the ingredients of true beauty. Make them yours this hectic, lovely, quirky holiday season.


(My husband, Bo, with me last Christmas on a stress-buster outing!)





  1. I should’ve read this last week. Ugh! Maybe I’ll be ready for Christmas!

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