The holidays are here!
Are you thinking “Ho! Ho! Ho!” or “No! No! No!”
Do you want to deck the next person who sings “Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly?”
Is your “fight or flight” response on high alert?
I know the feeling. Take a deep breath…you can do this.
The key is strategy. Rather than letting the holidays run you over, let’s be proactive. Your holidays really can be less stressed and more blessed if you focus on the A-B-C’s.
Adjust Your Expectations
Perhaps you have fond memories of a long-ago “perfect” Christmas. Maybe you’re a sucker for all those happily-ever-after Hallmark movies. Or you just don’t want a pandemic-plain holiday like last year.
That’s understandable, but don’t set yourself up for disappointment by determining to have a “perfect” holiday this year. Instead, have realistic expectations.
It may be time to downsize your holidays. We always had a big Christmas tree, even though our living room is tiny. It was a tradition. But both our sons are adults now, and it’s just my wife and I here. So we saved the top section of our artificial Christmas tree and threw out the rest. Now we have a cute little Christmas tree on a TV tray, and it’s just right for the two of us. Are there some long-standing traditions that actually wear you out? Perhaps it’s time to start some new ones.
The holidays tend to be chaotic, so it’s important to regain control of your time. Don’t fall into the trap of overscheduling. Sure, there are lots of festivities, but trying to do them all leads to exhaustion, not enjoyment. Be selective in what you participate in; again, maybe there are some traditional activities that need to be retired or scaled back.
You’ll still be busy, of course. So consider limiting your time on social media, or perhaps take a break from the news (the world will go on without you). Those moments may be better spent doing other things.
In addition to your time, you also should set boundaries on your spending. Establish a budget and stick to it. Give the plastic cards a rest (you won’t regret it later). Maybe you can spend some relaxing Sunday afternoons with carols and crafts. If homemade gifts aren’t your thing, perhaps you can come up with a memory-making activity instead of giving gifts. Another alternative is everyone in the family drawing names and getting gifts for the person they drew, rather than the entire family. Maybe everyone can buy one gift and have a “Yankee swap.” Be creative and think out of the (gift) box.
Calm The Chaos
Let a peaceful holiday be your goal. Schedule some time each week when you aren’t cooking or decorating or shopping or wrapping or whatever. Plan some simple self-care moments that will re-energize you: a walk outside, a cup of tea, a scented candle, even a nap if needed. You’ll be amazed how much benefit you can gain from a mini-break. Don’t cut back on your daily time with the Lord– in fact, you may want to spend a little more time in His presence before you tackle the presents.
I hope these tips are helpful. Can you think of others to add to the list? The important thing is to focus on the important things. What is it you’re celebrating? If the holiday is Thanksgiving, are you spending time thanking Him? If it’s Christmas, are you welcoming Him into your heart and home? Perhaps the greatest tip of all is to be sure to include Jesus in all your celebrations. That’s the best way to have a less-stress holiday!
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Related Post: “The Promise of Emmanuel”