Holidays are intended to be joyous celebrations. Yet holidays tend to burden our thoughts of having too much to do, not enough money, a hectic hurry, difficult family members, feelings of depletion, and so much stress.
Here are some ideas on how to approach the holidays from a more relaxed and playful perspective.
Focus on the center of the season and let most of the rest of it go. Holidays celebrations should be defined by spiritual meaning, often remembered through traditions we share with family, friends, and our church family. Ask yourself, what is the core meaning of the holiday and what does it mean to you? What do you want to be mindful of and how do you want to experience it? How can the true meaning of the holiday be visible to those around you?
Scale down what you do. With your focus now on the spiritual center, reassess your traditions and invitations and think about what is actually important to how you want your family to experience the season. Ask your family what matters to them and what can be eliminated. Some people enjoy baking as a team, for example, but maybe your family wants a midnight snowball fight or hold a storytelling contest. Give yourself permission to let the rest of it go. Christmas cards, decorating, multiple family visits, etc. can all be re-evaluated and dialed back for a time.
Perfect holidays aren’t possible! Stop hoping for one. When our expectations aren’t met, we become disappointed. Adjust your expectations to match reality. Ask yourself what is realistic and bring your expectations of yourself and the holiday down to that level. Things do not need to be Pinterest perfect to be meaningful and enjoyable.
Focus on people rather than things. Tune in to time with loved ones rather than expensive gifts, lavish decorations, or extravagant meals. Time genuinely invested and activities shared are more memorable and valued than yet more stuff. Time spent together building memories is a gift that will delight for years to come.
Be present to whatever you are doing or who you are with. Don’t allow worry and stress to steal the joy of the moment. Give yourself permission to sit and enjoy without fretting about the next things that need to be done. These times together are fleeting and rushing past them can rob us of delighting in the moment.
Practice good self-care and awareness. The better you care for yourself, the better you will feel and be able to cope with whatever comes your way. Good self-care is essential all year round, but even more so during the holidays or when stress increases. Pay attention to your body and be aware of thoughts and feeling. For example, let’s say you are worrying about several things and feeling tired and restless. You can use this information to be kind to yourself by cutting short an activity to go home and rest, do some deep breathing or have a cup of tea. Self-awareness can help you make wise choices. Be the first to leave the party for once. Take time to de-stress.
Rest, play, laugh, reflect, journal, exercise, color, do yoga, eat nutritious food, get plenty of sleep, pray and tell God your worries. Allow yourself to enjoy activities that help you relax.
“Find rest, o my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:5-6).
May God guide you in this Christmas season to experience his presence as the Prince of Peace.