Helping Adults Deal with Holiday Stress

neck massage

Advent is fast approaching and, along with it, the stress that comes with the secular holiday season. Often, the Church’s message for Advent is that we need to slow down and find some quiet time. Too often, that message is delivered as a scolding accompanied by a condemnation of the fast-paced and noisy secular celebration of the holidays. While there is plenty to critique about how our culture celebrates Christmas, the scolding approach offers little help.

Here’s an idea. How about if, along with the adult faith offerings for Advent, parishes offer 10-minute shoulder and neck massages for adults to help folks better cope with holiday stress? Many corporations offer shoulder and neck massages for their employees to help them deal with the stress of the workplace. I know that Loyola Press offered that to all of us employees some years ago and it was deeply appreciated!

Advent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus—the Word made Flesh. This is a perfect time to invite people to pay attention to their own bodies and to be thankful for the gift of good health. Parishes may have parishioners who are professionals in this area and might consider donating their services or providing them for a discount. Likewise, parishes may have businesses nearby that provide such services and are willing to provide them for a discount. The brief massages can be offered in a quiet, prayerful setting at the parish as part of the observance of Advent.

We talk about the intimate connections between body, mind, and soul, and our Catholic theology emphasizes this. We are an incarnational faith. And yet, most of our adult faith formation aims only at the head. Meanwhile, storefronts advertising spiritual wellness are popping up all over the place, offering “spiritual” massage, yoga, etc. For a faith that touts a Theology of the Body, we should do more to focus on spiritual wellness and the body within a Catholic context.

Thoughts, comments, and suggestions?

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. Joe, I absolutely love it! I offered chair massages at a Staff Meeting a few years back and it was so welcomed by the catechists. Even those who have never had a massage and who were hesitant, enjoyed the one on one neck and shoulder massage.

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