Does the anticipation of the holidays ever fill you with dread, or leave you feeling overwhelmed? My boys love a completely decorated house. Me on the other hand, I’d be happy with a simple tree. Not only do I take on most of the responsibility for decorating the house, but also the baking, meal planning, shopping, and wrapping as well.
The year my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I was forced to re-evaluate my holiday priorities and determine how I would thrive and not just barely survive the holidays. I learned a lot through that exercise, and continue to follow many of those lessons today.
Much of the stress and overwhelm we experience, sadly, we put on ourselves. That year, I learned how important it was to be my own advocate because I know better than anyone what I need. By taking care of myself, I was in a better position to take care of my family. It was essentially akin to “putting on my own oxygen mask first” so I could then assist others.
It’s my hope and prayer that as you read over this list of suggestions, that the Holy Spirit will highlight one or two (or ten) that could help you thrive this Christmas, and enable you to look back with fond memories.
20 Ways to Thrive this Christmas
1. Pray. Before you do anything, ask God to help you set your priorities for this Christmas season. He promises He won’t ever put anything ill-fitting on you.
2. Don’t rely on your own strength. Ask God to supply His strength and stamina for anything He asks of you that day.
3. Take time to prepare. Spend time in God’s presence before anything else in the morning. This will set the tone and the course for the rest of the day.
4. Just say no. Unless God has directed you otherwise, don’t be afraid to say no to some things in order to make the best yes for you and your family.
5. Recognize you aren’t Wonder Woman or Superman. Prayerfully determine what you can reasonably do within your time, energy, and financial restraints, and be willing to ask for help.
6. Schedule time to enjoy the simple things. As a family, decide what simple joys are a priority, then schedule them. Consider caroling together or watching a Christmas movie with popcorn and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
7. Prioritize. Of all the events and activities available to you, commit to those most important to you and let the others go until another year.
8. Make personal care a scheduled priority. Put time on your calendar for things that revitalize you so you can continue pouring out to others. Consider a bubble bath or a good book over a cup of creamy java.
9. Set the tone at home. To keep homelife calm, play soothing music, light the tree or scented candles, and turn off all electronics by an agreed upon time.
10. Minimize time on social media. Social media has a tendency to show only the most positive highlight reels of others’ lives. Consider taking a social media break to be more present with those who are actually present.
11. Avoid the comparison trap. Comparison is the thief of joy. The holidays are a particularly vulnerable time to compare ourselves to others. Stay focused on the tasks and people in front of you and vow not to compare to others.
12. Maintain your regular sleep habits. Consistent sleep is vital for having energy and alertness to accomplish all your tasks. Don’t cheat our sleep now or you’ll pay later.
13. Plan your meals and your snacks in advance. Pack healthy snacks and minimize any extra sugar intake which can adversely impact your mood and energy.
14. Determine to exercise at least 15 minutes a day. Just 10-15 minutes of physical exercise is proven to improve mood and increase energy, while burning calories.
15. Be intentional about your clothing. Choose outfits that you feel good in, even on the busiest of days.
16. Lower your expectations. One of the biggest reasons for disappointment and discouragement at Christmas is unmet and/or unrealistic expectations.
17. Extend grace to yourself and others. Know that if you don’t get everything done, or done the way you’d hoped, it’s okay.
18. Try to be in the moment. Whether it’s shopping and wrapping, company parties, or family meals, enjoy that piece of the Christmas celebration right then. Don’t let yourself think of what still needs to get done.
19. Consider your thoughts. We tend to be our own worst critic. Don’t allow negative thoughts to rent space in your mind. Focus on what you can be grateful for.
20. Plan a break. Plan one day each week when you will take a break from holiday preparations.
That year when I was forced to reassess my holiday priorities is one of my fondest Christmases I can remember. Sometimes simple really is better.
I’d love to hear any other suggestions you might have for thriving and not just surviving this Christmas in the comments below.
May I pray for you?
Father, we are so very grateful for the true meaning of Christmas. Let this be a time when we would experience a greater measure of your love, and in turn, be conduits of your love toward others. Help us to seek you first in all we do, so that you may order our steps. Give us strength and stamina for the day and sweet peaceful sleep at night. Help us to keep you and your son, Jesus, as our primary focus as we seek to thrive and not merely survive this Christmas. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
Because of Him, #PeacePrevails
For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: How to Help a Depressed Loved One eBook.
For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here: https://drmichellebengtson.com/10-things-to-know-if-you-have-a-depressed-loved-one/
For more about what not to say to a depressed loved one, read here: https://drmichellebengtson.com/what-not-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/ while here are suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one: https://drmichellebengtson.com/what-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/
To learn more about “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression,” Dr. Bengtson’s book, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book.
And, for the Bible Study, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-bible-study/.