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"It's the most wonderful time of the year," but also a time when stress levels soar, especially if you are involved in ministry.

Most of us are aware of the adverse effects that stress can have on our body. It can impact our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity if left unchecked.

In fact, research has shown that there is an increase in the occurrence of heart attacks and heart-related deaths during the festive season, which may be due to stress, heavy alcohol consumption, a fatty diet, or all three. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that holiday stress is dealt with now.

For those of us in ministry, we not only have the typical Holiday stress that everyone else has to deal with, we have the added stress of a Christmas Eve or Christmas Church service to handle. Here is a tip to help minimize stress.

1. Manage your Expectations

Despite the grand plans for that perfect Christmas church service, no event ever runs seamlessly, and this also rings true for most holiday celebrations. Rather than accumulating stress along the way from any mishaps that might occur, view these miniature calamities as an opportunity to exercise flexibility and resilience.

2. Go easy on Yourself.

Nobody is perfect and that includes you. Have some compassion for yourself. Mistakes happen.

3. Go easy on others.

We expect our volunteers and staff to fulfill high expectations. It’s okay to have high standards but people fail at times. Have compassion on them when they miss the mark.

4. Prepare for Problems.

Just as you have to adapt to changing situations in your personal life, you’ll run headlong into these problems at church. Equipment fails, key people get sick and cannot show up to help, money problems suddenly arise. Always try to imagine the worst-case scenario for your situation, and anticipate possible outcomes. Having a plan B (and C) can help ensure that you meet expectations, even when things go wrong.

5. Stay Positive.

Many things happen that are out of our control. Remember that God is in control and what matters most is the message of Christmas. It’s not a great Christmas Eve service, it’s the message of God’s love and peace to the world.

So yes, it’s a stressful season but you can manage your stress by being mindful. It's all too easy to let Christmas pass you by without truly enjoying and appreciating its specialness. Take the time to enjoy this season.