We are officially in the Holiday Season! Christmas decorations are up and Holiday music is playing everywhere you go. It seems we just skip over Thanksgiving in our rush to get to Christmas.
This time of year is filled with so much anticipation, joy, excitement and wonder. But it can also be filled with so much stress, anxiety and angst. Family dynamics are complicated and sometimes having to spend time with certain members of our family can be difficult.
In an effort to help us enjoy a healthier Holiday Season, I’ve put together some tips to make this year a time that brings positive memories to cherish.
Holiday Survival Tip #1:
This year, decide to go to all holiday events with a new attitude. Leave the past memories and issues in the car when you arrive. Be determined to only take in gifts powered by the positive attributes – love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Remember what your mom always told you: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”
Holiday Survival Tip #2:
You don’t have to eat all the candy! As a matter of fact, you don’t have to eat more than one plate of food! Over-eating makes our bodies feel sluggish and tired. For some people (myself included), the changes in blood sugar from eating all of the carb and sugar rich foods even bring on mood swings and bouts of depression. Not only do these side effects to our holiday feasting magnify any tensions or irritations you may already feel during this time a year, but it robs us of joys that the season should bring. Remember, the food does not make for a successful holiday gathering – it’s the stories we share, the bonds we build and the positive memories we create that determine whether this season will march into history as a success.
Holiday Survival Tip #3:
Determine to be more organized! It’s easy to say, but really, a key to reducing stress at this time of year is to plan ahead. Begin to purchase presents as soon as that great idea comes to you. Not only does it help you spread out your spending, but it keeps you from running all over at the last minute trying to accomplish everything.
Do as much holiday cooking and baking ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate until the festive day. Granted, this is not something that stresses me out personally, but when it stresses out my wife, I feel it!
Are you someone who ends up running late to family gatherings. With three females in my household, this was something we always battled. Start getting ready earlier so you can leave the house earlier and be on time. I know in my family, this would have averted many a conflict through the years.
If you can spread out and manage the demands of the season proactively, then you will be in a better frame of mind to handle personalities that sometimes bring friction at holiday gatherings.
Holiday Survival Tip #4:
Take the time to really engage in conversation, to ask the questions that really allow you to get to know the other person. So many times our conversations are so surface and superficial, almost bordering on the edge of gossip. We don’t ask the deeper questions that fully enable us to see into the heart and soul of who this individual really is.
I never will forget – years ago one of my uncle’s passed away. We would see him and his family every holiday and chat. Honestly though, hearing his eulogy, I never even knew the man. He was an amazing man of faith, a person who gave generously of his time and energies to serve others, a brave soul who fought hard against cancer. That part of him, which was actually the whole of him, I never knew. To me, he was the quiet uncle who never said very much. Don’t let another holiday go by and miss the blessing of truly connecting with one another.
Holiday Survival Tip #5:
Gratitude. Being grateful. Being thankful for what we have, where we are, who we are with. It’s a game changer in our attitude and outlook on life. Why? Because consciously thinking about all we have to be thankful for gets our focus on all of the things in our lives that are good and positive. It lifts our spirits and calms our anxieties. And the coolest thing is you can practice this exercise of gratitude even when you walk through the low spots on this journey of life. Because even when we think our problems are the biggest and they are sure to drown us, searching for even the smallest thing for which to be grateful gives us that glimmer of hope. Hope that things will turn around and we will end up having more things to be grateful for than we can count.
If we can change our frame of mind and fill it with the positivity that an attitude of gratitude brings, then we can tackle even the hardest relationships with a new outlook and fresh approach. This fresh attitude stays with us, especially on holidays when tensions and stress can threaten to get the best of us.
So today, before you leave the house for that family gathering or before all of the guests arrive, take a moment to reflect on all that you are grateful for.
Holiday Survival Tip #6:
I was reminded of this passage recently in a devotional. This reading is from Luke 6:27-36 (The Message). Even if you are not a person of faith, I think these words really will shed some light on how we can deal with one another in kindness.
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.”
This honestly smacks me right in the face. I struggle so hard with this. Maybe not so much with the random stranger, but for sure with the people who hold a closer position in my life. Perhaps this is something guys struggle with more than ladies – we are taught early on not to take anything from anyone, to be tough, to stand up for ourselves, not to let anyone walk all over us, etc. But obviously, these scriptures stand in stark contrast and don’t teach this at all.
I think the greatest challenge for us today is this sentence in particular – “You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.”
This Season, as we celebrate family, tradition, faith and the deeper meaning of the Holiday Season, may this be our guiding philosophy!
I hope these Holiday Survival Tips help you have a more meaningful Holiday Season this year and that you weather this hectic time with less stress and anxiety and more joy and happiness!