It’s the most wonderful time of the year (Ding-dong-ding-dong). The time of year when people seem to put aside their differences. When we believe that peace on earth is possible. When we celebrate the most incredible gift we’ve been given on this earth in Jesus Christ. It’s a time filled with joy and anticipation. Love and hope.
But, it can also be a difficult time. For some, we don’t feel the love. For some, the holiday season can feel like the most stressful time of the year. Recent losses still sting. Hope seems elusive. Busyness seems unending. And worship can feel, well, deflated.
You can turn the season around. And, we’ll talk about that today with 10 ways to improve your holidays:
- Accept Yourself. It’s okay if you’re not running up and down the decked halls like a chipper little elf. Maybe you’ve suffered a recent loss, or the holidays bring up past struggles. Not everyone gets into the spirit, and that’s okay. Really. Let yourself go through your emotions. Doing so, in fact, might free you from the stress of holding it back and allow you a little more enjoyment of the season.
- Seek Community. Don’t isolate yourself because of your feelings. Find a place to help others who need you. Seeking a role to serve others can be one of the most uplifting things in life. When it’s hard to experience joy in our own lives, we are often inspired by the simple joys in other’s lives.
- Just Say It. Continued feelings of sadness need to be heard. Find a trusted friend, family member, or counselor, and talk to them about what you’re feeling. Chances are, they’ve been there too and can offer support for you during the holidays.
- Be Realistic. Not every holiday is perfect. In fact, most holidays have some sort of snafu, things go wrong, commitments slip your mind. Give yourself grace during the season. As families and relationships change over time, the holiday’s often do as well. If you find there’s something really missing from your holiday, take charge of it yourself.
- Let Things Go. One of the most stressful parts of the holidays can be seeing someone that you have an issue with. Show mercy and grace to those who’ve offended you. You’ll be amazed at how taking the high road can give you a new sense of purpose in a relationship that feels out of control. It may be the start to reconciliation.
- Keep Your Wallet in Check. Don’t go overboard. Make a spending plan before you hit the stores to keep yourself from falling into a financial spending trap that causes you stress. If your family has grown too large to do something for everyone, offer an alternative like a gift exchange that requires each person to only purchase one gift. The time you spend together exchanging will become the best gift of all.
- Be a Planner (Just for a Season). Most of us wing-it through life. But doing so during the holidays can cause panic to set in as we watch the days fall from the calendar, and a list of commitments to fill at the last minute. Plan get-togethers a few weeks ahead. Get everyone involved in bringing something to a meal. Get teacher’s gifts first instead of at the last minute. Planning your season will make it run much more smoothly.
- Stay Healthy. No really. Stop laughing. Don’t go crazy at the buffet table. Enjoy each celebration, but keep your other meals in check. Letting yourself enjoy a continual feast during the holidays only leads to a stressful start to your New Year. We all know its coming. Enjoy the party, but keep a healthy diet in mind when the party ends.
- Take a Breather. Remember to create open spaces during your holiday. Time to sleep in late. Time to take a long drive to look at Christmas lights. Time to worship. While we want to show everyone around us the love of the season, don’t forget to love on yourself a little.
- Remember Why. It’s not about the presents. Or the lights. Or the festivities. It’s about a baby being born amongst us. A beloved child of God who came to earth for a season so that the rest of us might live in freedom and hope. Bring Him into everything you do in the season. It’s Him we are praising. Him we are celebrating. Him that encourages us to love.