The Side Effects Of Christmas

The Side Effects Of Christmas

Rick Petronella Newsletter
Rick J. Petronella, PhD
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December 2017
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The Side Effects Of Christmas

What exactly are we celebrating?

When one thinks about “side-effects” it is often associated with a negative connotation. Most medications have warning labels. The commercials on television announce a medication as being the answer to our problem, then only follow up with the possibility of becoming more miserable on the medication then the malady we are trying to treat. What kind of side effects are we left with after Christmas? Christmas means different things to different people. For some, the Christmas season is about having survived another year. To others it is enjoying extra time to reconnect with family and friends. And to others it may be bargain-hunting for great gifts. In fact, many who celebrate Christmas don’t think much about the reason for the season. Or if they do, it’s just a swirl of unrelated thoughts about family traditions and a generic sense of good-will toward all.

Gratitude, Peace and Joy

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that is for all people.” Luke 2:9-11

Most research supports that the key to peace and joy in our lives is a practice of gratitude. It makes sense… if we spend time pondering what we are grateful for, it cultivates contentment rather than discontentment, and we are less likely to ruminate over life’s shortcomings. It is an obvious and beneficial life lesson. Hence, we become filled with the very joy and peace we celebrate.

“Once upon a time, a scholar came to visit a saint. After the scholar had been orating and propounding for a while, the saint proposed some tea. She slowly filled the scholar’s cup: gradually the tea rose to the very brim and began spilling over onto the table, yet she kept pouring and pouring. The scholar burst out: “Stop! You can’t add anything to something that’s already full!” The saint set down the teapot and replied, “Exactly.”

The word, sacred, has two kinds of meanings. First, it can refer to something related to religion or spirituality. Second, more broadly, it can refer to something that one cherishes, that is precious, to which one is respectfully, even reverently, dedicated. Such is the meaning of Christmas. Once we allow ourselves to experience the true meaning Christmas we begin to experience the very peace that was declared by the angel Gabriel in Luke 2:9-11. This is because we allow ourselves the opportunity to begin to understand, even for a moment, what it is to truly be at peace; without stress or pressure, allowing ourselves to experience the deepening commitment to this sacred holiday.

How do you feel about taking a moment to enter a place of peace? Allow yourself to put your attention and intentions on the why of Christmas. Somehow it just feels right. Ask yourself, how you spend your time and other resources during this holy season?

Is it possible for us to sustain a sense of the peace that God has already provided? Allow yourself to experience the results “gratitude, peace and joy.”

However it shows up for you, this peace can become be a treasure, a warmth, and a profound refuge. As a matter of fact, it can become the very side effect we would want after Christmas.

Dr Rick

Featured Article
Top 10 Ways To Have The Best Holidays Ever

The holiday season is upon us. And with it will comes the hope that this one will be truly magical. However, many of us quickly get bogged down in busyness, stress and old patterns. Here are 10 ways to turn that dynamic around and create the magic.

1. Give yourself a break.Perfection—even perfect happiness—just isn’t possible. Let your best be good enough. Make a budget for both your time and your money—and stick to it. It really is the thought that counts.

2. Make conscious decisions. Get clear about what you really want to do over the holidays before compromising with others. If you don’t have a clear plan and clear intentions, you might find yourself getting swept along by others’ desires. Even if you compromise later, get clear first.

3. Shorten your to-do list. What do the holidays mean to you? For many, it’s about family and friends and spirituality. If an item doesn’t add to your holiday spirit, scratch it off.

4. Say no when you want to. It’s very liberating. Try it and see. It sounds simple, but too often obligation trumps desire. When faced with options, choose the one that would make you happier.

5. Limit obligatory activities. If you can’t avoid certain events, limit the time you’re there.

6. Take good care of yourself. The old standards help keep stress at bay: eat healthfully, exercise, drink lots of water, and breathe deeply. Schedule time for relaxation and fun.

7. Start early. To avoid a last-minute frenzy that can bust your budget, start shopping or making presents now.

8. Ask for help.Reject any notion of martyrdom. The burden of preparations should not fall upon one person. The more specific you are in your request, the more successful you’ll be.

9. Establish new traditions. If you have experienced a major life-changing event, such as a death or divorce, consider doing something you’ve never done before over the holidays, such as travel to another country or take a cruise.

10. Get support. If a glorious holiday season feels completely out of reach, you may experience the holiday blues. Many people do. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. Reach out for the support you need.

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Bethany Kinzel MA, LPC has a vast experience working with adolescents as well as young married couples. She also works with families and children going through divorce. Bethany has served in both inpatient as well as out-patient settings. We welcome her to our practice as one of our therapists. 678-395-7922.

Charity Simpson NCC, MS, M.Div. specializes in children, adolescents, and women’s issues. She runs a group for young women on Monday nights from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. It is quite popular. Give her a call. The first appointment is free. 678-395-7922. Charity has been doing a fabulous job. She has just opened up a few more spots and is taking new clients.

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