He loves settling in under all the sparkly lights with so many dangling “toys” within reach. Our family jokes that he’s the best Christmas gift we could get.
Christmas Eve is less than a week away. For some this marks one of the most joyful times of the year; for others it can be stressful, whether there’s concern about being with certain family members or just being alone, as well as pressure over time and money. And perhaps the biggest issue many people face: their health.
Consumerism has crept into Christmas and stolen much of its meaning, pulling people into over-spending and losing sight of the peace that should characterize the holidays. A whopping 247 million people began their shopping early this year with the barely-finished-with-Thanksgiving-dinner Black Friday event.
This year’s frenzy set several records, including highest overall spending (online and in-store): an estimated $59 billion with the average consumer spending $423. IPads took the cake in the mobile tech department, with the Nook coming in second.
All those TV’s, cashmere sweaters and latest tech devices won’t necessarily land under the tree. Many people are just out for a deal, rather than purchasing presents. The coupon-wielding shoppers joined thousands of others jostling for parking spots, waiting in long lines, or sleeping in store lots until they opened for business on Black Friday. All that can add up to one word: stress.
Tips abound for how to de-stress during the holidays. Carving out time devoted to your health and well-being may be the best advice of all, since statistics show stress accounts for most doctor visits.
As a busy mom with a career, I’ve gotten into the habit of silencing my phone during the evening and morning for at least an hour so I have time for my daily Bible study and thinking about the spiritual ideas that help me feel peaceful and able to tackle each day.
For me, the real gift of the Christmas season isn’t what’s wrapped in a box but what’s found in our hearts and homes: love for one another, compassion, and year-long gratitude. These things have a way of lifting off stress and letting in the Christ light that typifies the season.
What if enduring health could be wrapped in a box and gifted to everyone on your list–wouldn’t you want that? Isn’t that infinitely more valuable than the latest gadget or the softest cashmere?
The thing is, the key to good health begins with out-of-the box thinking. The kind of thinking that more health consumers are beginning to do by investigating alternative and complementary forms of medicine. They’re questioning a strictly bio-medical approach to health and finding some solutions through exploring the role thought plays in health outcomes.
Doctors and medical students are also responding to this need by teaching and learning about new forms of treatment, rather than only resorting to surgical procedures and drugs. (See for example Complementary Medicine Training Added to Medical School Curriculum.) The recently released documentary, “Escape Fire” points to these very issues in America’s current healthcare system.
Health can’t be tied up with a bow, but it’s certainly worth taking practical steps to promote it. Studies show that those who give willingly to others, laugh freely, and spend time in gratitude for the good they’ve received throughout the year experience better health. To me, they’re practicing the tools that come from living a Spirit-based life.
So what are you planning to put under your Christmas tree this year?