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The holidays can be a time of great fun and cheer and family. But, this time of year can also bring on stress and anxiety and worry. So, how can we ward off those negative feelings and really focus on the joy of the season? These few simple steps may help!
Bring on the Quiet
I know, I know. Moms of young children, you may have read that with raised eyebrows and doubt in your heart. A big “Yeah right” probably rolled around in your head. I get it. My house is rarely quiet. Some days I feel like I can’t even think because of chatter and laughter (and whining and crying). But, I have realized that I need quiet. And because I have kids (and a husband and two dogs), I need to schedule that time for myself. For me, I get up fifteen minutes or so earlier than I probably need to. I get a cup of coffee, get my Bible, but before I even read a page, I like to take a moment or two to soak in the quiet.
This holiday season, give it a try. Find a time, just for you, when you can soak in the quiet and let your stress melt away. If you put up a Christmas tree, it can be calming and relaxing to just quietly sit and look at the tree in the quiet stillness of the morning. If you have a window you like to sit by, you could look outside at the winter landscape. The important thing is to schedule in that time for yourself. You need it.
Count Your Blessings
It’s easy to get caught up in the demands and pressures of the holiday season. If you are like me, you have a mental checklist going all the time. “___ days left til Christmas and ____ things left to do.” I find that I can quickly start to criticize myself…are my Christmas cookies good enough for the party? Did I get a good enough present for my family member? Am I helping my family make lasting memories this holiday season? When these worries start to flood my mind, I have found that it helps to slow down and start thanking God for the blessings in my life. Focusing on my blessings makes me stop focusing on the stress of the season.
Start small. Look around you, wherever you may be in that moment, and start thanking God for the good things you see. The other night, my family and I were watching a Christmas special on TV. I just could not focus on the program. My mind was swirling with anxieties and worries about the holidays. I started by thanking God for my family members. I thanked him for each one individually…for my daughter’s spunky spirit, for my son’s thoughtful nature, for my husband’s steadfast heart. Then I thanked him for the fact that we have a TV to watch, knowing that many families don’t. I thanked him for providing us with a warm house on a cold, snowy night. For the cozy blanket I was wrapped up in with my daughter. I looked around and thanked him for our beautiful Christmas tree that was twinkling in the corner.
You get the idea…look around and start thanking God for the good things in your life. It will change your perspective quickly.
Keep the Focus on Christ
Our culture has completely commercialized Christmas. I started to see Christmas decorations out in local stores around Halloween this year! What happened to Thanksgiving?!? Every message we get seems to be focused on what we need to buy to create fantastic holiday memories. This toy…that tree…these decorations…those gifts. To really keep the joy in the season, we need to remember to focus on Christ. The holidays aren’t about the perfect tree, the most delicious cookies, or the greatest gift we can buy. The holidays are about the greatest gift we have already received…Jesus.
Take time to read your Bible this holiday season. Don’t let the pressures or stress of the day steal that time from you. As you read, think about Jesus and the wonderful, awesome, fantastic gift that he was (is) to all of us. Help your family keep this focus too. If you need a fun idea, I created a family Christmas scavenger hunt for this very purpose. The link will bring you over to a blog post that introduces it. It can be done while walking through town, driving to a Christmas party, or even while walking through the mall. I hope you find it useful!
So, as we head into the final stretch before Christmas day, I hope you are able to use these suggestions to calm your spirit, steady your heart, and keep your eyes on the true joy of the season…Jesus.