Dealing with Holiday Stress and Year-End Burnout

Dealing with Holiday Stress
and Year-End Burnout

Barb’s cure for both—with tips on
planning a “staycation,” a story about Houska,
and a reminder of the reason for the season.

December and its holidays always bring extra stress as we make to-do lists for everything related to our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. I think we all feel we have more to do now than time to do it, so it's no wonder holiday stress and year-end burnout are so common.

But I know the cure for both.  At year's end, I always refresh my spirit with a restful staycation that will last as long as possible over the holidays. For a stay-at-home vacation to work, you must break the pattern that’s causing you stress or worry, which means stop what you've been doing. And disconnect from mainstream news and the internet for as long as possible. Forget about email, and stay off your social media outlets and your blog, if you have one. You may think you’re connecting to the world by doing these things, but you’re actually distancing yourself from both your family and the real world—the one God created for your pleasure and enjoyment. (When did you last "commune with nature?" This can be a great stress reliever and emotional healer.)

Carve Out Time for Yourself

Whether you’re burned out or not, plan some special time at the end of the year for things you didn’t have time to do before. I consider it restful to reorganize my writing files, get back to stitching, call old friends, and fix special meals that take extra time to prepare (or have too many calories to enjoy more than once a year). I always bake cookies and make a few loaves of Houska, the Czech bread my late husband, Harry, loved so much.

When we married in 1961, his aunts said I needed to learn how to bake this bread if I wanted to keep him happy. (This sweet, braided bread with golden raisins is best served warm with a generous spread of butter and some hot cocoa on the side.)

Whenever Harry and I were “on the outs” and I wanted to get back in his good graces, I just said, “I’ll bake Houska for you today, honey,” and all was forgiven. I made that bread for him right up to the end of his life; now I make it for myself and as a gift for others who have shown me special kindnesses during the year.

At Christmas, I also escape by binging on Hallmark Christmas movies, which bring back memories of my romantic days with Harry and growing up in a small town with a mother who always made this holiday so memorable for the whole family.

Leaning on the Lord

I hope all of you have happy Christmas memories to fall back on, especially if your life isn’t as happy now as it was in the past. Many people have good reason to be sad this Christmas with the country now more divided than ever and COVID still claiming the lives of loved ones. For some, faith in God may be the only thing they have to hang onto.

If you aren’t leaning on the Lord now when it’s His birth we’re celebrating, I hope you will read the story of how I finally connected personally to God at the late age of 57 after taking Him for granted all my life. A simple prayer changed my life overnight, and I’ve turned my Testimony for Christ into a PDF document you can download for later reading and perhaps sharing with someone who’s feeling lost and discouraged this Christmas.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; NIV).

My Christmas Wish for You

In this most special season of the year, I pray all of you will have a peaceful and joyful Christmas and that this will be a time of renewed hope and a strengthening of your faith. Merry Christmas, everyone, and may your New Year be bright with surprising opportunities, small miracles, and success in your chosen endeavors!

As always, I look forward to another year with hope, expectation, and thanksgiving for all I’ve been given, and I hope the same is true with you. I leave you with a joyful video of Frank & Zack Hyde playing their original piano arrangement, “Sleigh Ride Fantasy.” This is my favorite Christmas song and I listen to these remarkable young pianists and songwriters every year. They deserve your attention. Enjoy!

First published as a Brabec Bulletin, December 20, 2021.

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