Dear Stress,

Old companion, I wanted to take a few minutes to send you a holiday letter. I feel it is only right as you have been by my side this whole year.

Music is on. I really only meant to listen to one holiday song. With a tap “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” came out the computer and, well you know how the internet works- you have it on in another tab and you get sucked into each next song. My favorite holiday song is “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds. Some of the best ways to indulge in the holiday are by having your favorites on a loop.

The stockings are hung. The tree is decorated. Several huge boxes of gifts shipped from my in-laws (and the North Pole) are about to come out of hiding. By the time you are reading this, I am sure brightly wrapped gifts will have filled the living room.

As I write to you, I sit in my calm living room. The kids are at school and the dogs are snoozing on the couch. The space heater that looks like a fireplace is glowing behind me. You, stress, are slowly creeping up my back as I type.

We know the current peace of my house will soon disappear. Kids will come in, excited for the holiday break. The dogs will wake up to play. You will spring me from here to there- cleaning and worrying all the way.

You know what that means. Stress, you and I will party it up for a few weeks.

But Stress, you deserve a holiday, too! Take a break. I’ll see you next year.

How will I let you go, Stress? I’ve made a list. See, I’m ready for your vacation.

How to Bless Stress into Next Year:

• Start each day with gratitude and love. Every morning, find several things for which to be thankful. Remind my family of my unconditional love for them.

• Head toward the kitchen with a smile and enjoy my morning coffee, tea or mimosa. Savor the small experience until the last drop.

• Make a family plan for the day. What chores need to get done and when? What fun activity will we do and where? To whom will we spread our holiday cheer? Also, does anyone need to go to work?

• Stress, I know you. You’ll try to join us throughout the day. I will acknowledge you, Stress. How are you affecting my mood, words, actions? Where are you in my body? I will shake the stress away.

• Let’s keep the TV off for most of the day. I have noticed the longer it is on the more growly the kids get. We’ll find other ways to fill that time.

• Stress relief is a team effort. When I notice my husband getting stressed I will offer him a break, help and a smile. He will do the same for me. We will work with the children to help them identify the issue and how to handle it.

• I will drink a relaxing tea. Chamomile with raw honey is awesome. Turmeric also works wonders.

• I am going to read books! I want us to take turns reading out loud to each other. I want “Little Women” and “The Night Before Christmas” to fill our warm home.

• (OK —when needed, I will sneak away for a nap. I will not allow myself to feel guilty- it is self-care!)

• End each day with gratitude and love. Each night, ask everyone what the best part of their day was and what they look forward to tomorrow.

Stress, I’ve got this figured out. I know I normally pay you in yells and lost sleep, but this holiday season I want to assure you that you can take a break! I promise to relax. You go spend time with your sister’s Guilt and Shame, Uncle Anger, Aunt Disgust, cousin Sadness, and Grandpa Fear.

Enjoy your time with your family! I will be sure to without you!



by Leah Ryan

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