The holiday season, anticipated by most, promoted to the extreme by businesses, the media, and our society in general, often is a time of anxiety, depression or sadness for many. Even though the message of Christmas is love, many of us can become anxious or feel down due to various pressures. worries or unmet expectations. The holiday season can especially be challenging for those who are grieving or who are suffering with physical or mental health issues. "Peace on Earth may seem impossible if you don't have peace of mind." (, Dec.,2011)

The Canadian Mental Health Association has a list of 10 tips for holiday peace of mind:
  1. Plan ahead. Try to keep things simple. Do whatever you can to prepare in advance so that you can relax and enjoy visiting.
  2. As much as possible, organize and delegate. Share the duties of decorating, shopping, gift-wrapping and cooking. Mom shouldn't have to do it all! Don't overextend yourself with too many commitments.
  3. Beware of overindulgence. Too much alcohol can dampen your spirit. Alcohol is a depressant. Too much fruitcake and not enough exercise can make you feel lethargic, tired and guilty. Don't forget to get enough sleep to keep you healthy through this busy time of year. Eating well, exercising regularly and getting a good night's sleep can help you battle stress, winter blues and even colds.
  4. Stay within your budget.  Finances can be a significant stressor for many people. Eliminate the unnecessary. Set a budget and stay within it. Enjoy free activities like walking or driving around looking at decorations. Try making your own decorations or presents. Tell someone how much they mean to you. A call, note or e-mail can be as touching as or even more meaningful than a present.
  5. Remember what the holiday season is about for you. Make that your priority. Remember that this season is really about sharing, loving and spending time with family and loved ones. Develop your own meaningful family traditions that don't have to cost a lot of money. And use this time of year to regain perspective. Also, remember not to take things too seriously. Fun or silly things to do, games or movies that make you laugh, playing with pets, and time alone with a partner are all good ways to reduce stress. Watching children can also help us put things in perspective.
  6. Invite others. If you have few family or friends, reach out to neighbours. Find ways to spend the holidays with other people. Include someone who is alone in one of your family gatherings. 
  7. Connect with your community. Attend diverse cultural events with family and friends. Help out at a local food bank. Go through your closets and donate clothes or toys. Give to a charity that helps those in need. Lend your voice to a cause that you care about.
  8. Make gift-giving easier and less expensive. Encourage children to make their gifts. Think of combined gifts for people in the same household. Try putting family members' names in a hat and buying one gift for the name that you draw. Or arrange a mystery gift swap by asking friends to each bring one wrapped mystery gift, then draw a name to decide who picks out a gift first.
  9. Remember the weather doesn't help. Some people get the winter blahs each year. A much smaller number (2-3%) develop seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.). Paying attention to nutrition, exercise and sleep, as well as being careful with alcohol is important especially for those with a history of depression. If your low mood continues on into the new year and begins to affect your daily living, you should see your family doctor.
  10. Learn stress-busting skills you can use year-round. If the holidays often get you down, you may struggle with stress, low mood and worry at other times of the year as well. CMHA offers programs that can help you develop skills to solve problems, practice healthy thinking and build confidence. For more information, visit or
Philip A. Smith, B.Sc.Phm.
Reference: (these 10 tips were published Dec.14,2011 by the British Columbia division of CMHA)
A Personal Note from Phil Smith

The Canadian Mental Health Association has given us some good practical suggestions to help reduce stress during the holiday season. It is good advice for all.

Each of us will experience stress. Some stress in our lives is healthy and normal. It is easy, though, to feel overwhelmed at times. The Bible has some advice to encourage us not to worry, and reminds us that God loves everybody. However, if the worry, anxiety or depressed feelings are long-lasting or interfere with our daily living, a physician should be consulted, as a mental health issue should not be ignored. 
Depression, anxiety disorders and mental illness can happen to anyone.  Mental health issues are a part of the lives of so many of us, whether or not we are believers in the Lord.
Point number 5 above tells us to "remember what the holiday season is about for you." Well, for me, the Christmas season is certainly about sharing, loving and spending time with family, but it is more than that.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Person who has influenced history more than any other. This Person is Jesus of Nazareth. He was born about 2000 years ago and became a carpenter. Even though He was not wealthy, never wrote a book, was never in politics and never traveled very far from his home town, He has impacted life on earth unlike any other.
His life changed the lives of those close to him, changing simple fishermen who had no courage into men who told everyone they met about this Jesus, even at the risk of losing their lives. They told of this carpenter from Nazareth who changed water into wine, healed the sick, and had compassion for and spent time with the outcasts of society. Jesus challenged the religious leaders of the day, which led to the Roman authorities putting him to death.
Jesus made claims about himself that no one dared to claim unless the claims were true. He said things such as, "I and my Father are one"...indicating that He in fact was ONE with God. Jesus spoke with authority that only God had. Jesus forgave sins, which only God could do. He touched people only as God could. Jesus proved that His claims were true by rising from the dead after He had been put to death on a cross. Historians have documented his life. His life continues to change people today.
At Christmastime, when Jesus was born, God moved into the neighbourhood and He wants to be in your life. Why not investigate the truth of this Man, Jesus, yourself. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. We can all use Peace in our lives.
Merry Christmas to each of you and may God bless you and your families.
Sincerely, Philip A. Smith