According to the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of Americans are overwhelmed during Christmas. What makes Christmas such a challenging time of the year? Perhaps Christmas is such a stressful time of year because far too many people say “yes” to overspending, overeating, and overexerting themselves.
It’s not easy turning others down, especially around the holidays; however, it is necessary. Instead of saying “yes” to every invitation or request, here are some simple ways to say “no” and stay sane this Christmas.
1. Just say “no.”
Although it may seem easier to say “yes” or make an excuse to avoid a conflict, saying “no” is a biblical principle. According to Matthew 5:37, “just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” To make Christmas a little calmer this year, normalize saying “no.”
2. “That doesn’t work for me.”
Politely turning down an invitation to a party or not eating someone’s special dessert at Christmas is fine. There’s no need to feel guilty or wonder if the other person’s feelings may be hurt by declining them in a respectful—but firm—manner.
3. “Let me get back to you.”
If feeling unsure about saying “yes,” don’t make a knee-jerk reaction by giving in to pressure. Take a day or two to decide if it’s even feasible. Having time to think, pray, and discuss it with others—such as a spouse, kids, or even a New Life Counselor—will give much-needed clarity.
4. “I have other plans, but let’s get together soon.”
Another strategy is to schedule blocks of time each day for self-care—such as going to the gym, getting a massage, or spending quality family time with the kids or spouse. That way, it’ll be easier to turn someone down if there’s already something scheduled. By making self-care and family a priority, Christmas will be less stressful.
5. “I’ve always hosted, but I can’t do it this year.”
Christmas is a time for traditions. But maybe it’s too much to host the entire family this year. The best way to break the news is to convey a willingness to help in another way. Perhaps say, “If you decide to host at your house, I can help with the cooking.”
6. “I don’t have room for that in my budget.”
Tell family and friends in advanced what the budget will be for gifts and activities, so they’ll know what to expect. When a grandchild or child asks for an expensive gift, be honest with them and ask them if there’s another gift they’d like.
7. “I’ll come for a visit, but I’ll stay in a hotel.”
Looking forward to catching up with family and friends, but don’t want to deal with their excessive drinking or argumentative behavior? Having a place to retreat to will prevent this scenario from becoming a nightmare in the future. If things do get heated, stay calm and head back to the hotel for a much-needed break.
8. “I’m not comfortable with that.”
It’s imperative to communicate boundaries clearly with family and friends, then follow through with any consequences when boundaries are broken. By standing firm in saying “no,” people will either respect it or must they face the ramifications.
9. “That is not something I’ll discuss right now.”
Whether it’s politics or bringing up issues from the past, let’s face it, Christmas get-togethers tend to be the time that conflicts occur. Before attending an event with family and friends, think about what a suitable response would be if an argument happens. So, no matter how hot things get, stay cool. And respond instead of reacting. Finally, never forget the real meaning of Christmas—celebrating the birth of Christ.
by Kimberlee Bousman