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Find Peace During the Holidays

Ways to relieve that holiday stress and bring peace and relaxation back into your life.

Are the holidays getting to you? Overscheduling, overeating, hurrying here and there, jangled nerves, family tensions, shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, major credit card debts for gifts we often do not even need or appreciate…it’s enough to cause the “Scrooge” in all of us to come out! What ever happened to the spirit of peace that traditionally was the hallmark of the holiday season?

Take heart. Peace can still be found within us and around us. For many of us, though, it may be buried beneath our restless minds, hurried lifestyles and exaggerated desires. The good news is that we can replace holiday stress with holiday peace.

To find that peace again, begin by drawing upon your own personal experience and jotting down brief answers to these three items.

  • Looking back over past holidays, what is one cause of seasonal stress you would like to eliminate or reduce this year?

  • What would you really enjoy adding to this year’s celebrations?

  • Name one reasonable thing you could do daily during this season that would bring more peace into your life.

Once you have your answers, discuss them with family members or friends, and invite them to respond to the questions also. Encourage one another in finding simple, positive ways to put your answers into action.

One of the best ways to combat holiday stress is to take your attention away from it and focus on its opposite – peace. Peace is an inner state of alert calmness and vibrant tranquility. It is harmony with people and one’s environment. True peace is not dependent on outward circumstances, the behavior of others or the absence of illness. It is the ability to accept with composure whatever challenges come our way. Inner peace carries with it a quiet feeling of power and energy. It is not passive or lazy.

To feel even a touch of this kind of peace is a healing and renewing experience. And sharing it’s fruit with others is a two-way blessing. Here are some suggestions for cultivating a spirit of peace during the holidays:

Tips to help bring a feeling of peace into your life

  • Examine what helps you feel peaceful. Maybe it’s having fun with a good friend, listening to uplifting music, praying, meditating, enjoying a good massage or gazing at the stars. Whatever works for you, build more of those experiences into your daily life.

  • If you find yourself rushing all the time, you’ll have to break that habit if you’re serious about living in abiding peace. Build more free space into your life. Kindly say no. Keep life simple. Let go of non-essentials. Do less and enjoy it more.

  • Reach out to ease the way for others. Scattering kindness, lending a helping hand and spreading cheerfulness are good medicine for all concerned.

  • Breathe with a soft belly. Feel the easy, natural, sensuous rhythm of your in-breath and out-breath. Doing this is a quick, effective way for regaining or deepening your calmness.

  • Cultivate the companionship of calm, happy, peaceful people. Gradually, and in subtle ways, you’ll find it easier to bring that sense of peace into all your relationships.

  • Spend time in nature with your eyes and ears and heart wide open. Even brief moments here and there can make a big difference.

  • Say no to worrying about the past and fretting about the future. Live fully in the here and now. Look with awe into the beautiful eyes of the person in front of you. Take time to hear the song of the wind in the pine trees. Embrace the wonder of each moment.

  • Avoid dividing your attention. With peace as your companion, do one thing at a time. Give full concentration to the task at hand, striving to perform all actions with even-mindedness.

  • Make a game of it: See if you can remain unruffled even in the face of challenging situations. Little by little, your skills as a peacemaker will increase.

Keep in mind that sometimes a lack of peace is an inner call for forgiveness, a change in lifestyle, or the healing of a relationship. If this is the case you’ll know it, as long as you sensitively listen to the signals of your body, mind and spirit.

Perhaps most important of all, use your creativity to schedule in some relaxed periods for being quiet and having some solitude. In that stillness feel the spirit of peace within you and around you; and listen carefully and respectfully to the whisperings of your heart.

For more information on managing stress or finding peace in difficult situations, contact the Howard County Extension Office and ask for the booklets, “Managing Stress”, “Getting Your Heart Right” and/or “Blueprint to Happiness”. All of these publications were written by Dr. Wallace Goddard and Dr. James Marshall, former Family Life Specialists with the University of Arkansas Research and Extension. They are available free of charge from the Howard County Extension Office. Call 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

This recipe is a favorite during the holiday season. It is an impressive dessert that I take to a lot of holiday parties. It is not difficult to make, however if you don’t want to tackle it, you can purchase one at the upcoming EHC Bake Sale on December 17 starting at 8:00 a.m. at the EH Center in Nashville. The center is located behind the courthouse. Requests are being accepted for certain items. Call the Extension office at 870-845-7517 to make your request.

Pumpkin Cake Roll

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2/3 cup pumpkin

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • ¾ cup flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ginger

  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Beat eggs on high for 5 minutes; gradually add in sugar.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
  5. Fold into pumpkin mixture.
  6. Pour cake into prepared pan making sure batter is even.
  7. Sprinkle nuts on top.
  8. Bake at 375⁰F for 15 minutes. Immediately turn out cake on a clean kitchen towel that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar.
  9. Remove parchment paper. Starting at narrow end, roll towel and cake together.
  10. Set aside to cool completely. Once cool, prepare filling.  
  11. Combine all ingredients for filling until smooth.
  12. Unroll cooled cake and spread filling over cake.
  13. Roll cake and filling together.
  14. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.
  15. Chill in refrigerator before serving.   


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair