Christmas is less than three weeks away – yikes! So just maybe, that familiar feeling of being overwhelmed might be settling into your heart. Your to-do list keeps growing, along with your list of gifts left to buy, and time is clicking away faster than Frosty can say Happy Birthday. And just maybe, you are beginning to wonder if it’s even all worth it.
The kids won’t stop arguing, the spouse doesn’t appreciate how much you do around the holidays, your job is pressuring you to do more, there are more gifts to buy than the budget will allow, and extended family is squabbling over who gets to spend the most time where. I always find myself trying to do way too much and expecting too much of not only the holidays and others, but also of myself. In fact, sometimes I allow unrealistic expectations to seep into my heart and when those expectations aren’t met, I get more cranky than the Grinch. Or maybe you feel like the Grinch simply because you’re not even a fan of Christmas, and you’re just wishing those three weeks would pass by quickly!
In any case, when I start feeling Grinch-like, I’ve learned there is only one solution….. a change in my own personal outlook.
You know, sometimes we become our own worst enemy – expecting too much of ourselves, trying to meet unrealistic expectations, assuming that we can keep our emotions (and those of others) under control, and then beating ourselves up when we finally confess we can’t do it all. So today I want so share a few holiday stress-busters to help you make it through this month with a smile on your face, peace during your day, and joy in your heart. To help make this holiday a little less stressed, and help you to change your personal outlook before it changes you, below are 5 important things to remember:
1. Remember to ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Consider writing out a list of what you expect of yourself, your holiday, your family. Also write down everything on your to-do list right now – and then take a good long look at your list. Is everything realistic from a time perspective? Is what you are expecting to get done on your own actually feasible? Are you expecting people and situations to be different than they always have been? Are you setting yourself up for frustration, feelings of being overwhelmed, or discouragement? If you see any red flags or recognize any potential problems, ponder how you can change your expectations so that you can embrace a more realistic outlook of what can/will occur. Set priorities, delegate what you can, and scratch off goals that are seemingly impossible, then set new goals or lists accordingly. Then sigh a deep breath of relief, and ask God to fill you with His peace and the ability to stick with what your heart is telling you.
2. Remember you can’t keep everyone happy – no mater how hard you try. Someone won’t like their gift, someone won’t like the casserole, and someone won’t like someone else in the room. Prepare your heart to be so filled with joy and peace that other people’s unhappiness or grumpiness will have no bearing on your own. Take time to read your Bible, sit down and be still with God, and spend time in prayer.
3. Remember to continue exercising and eating right so you’ll not only avoid gaining those extra holiday pounds, but you’ll feel better physically, emotionally and spiritually all season long. Be sure to give yourself the gift of making time for taking care of YOU. Although January 1st seems like a great day to start a new diet plan, we don’t want to sabotage ourselves before we even get started.
4. Remember that Christmas memories are built on emotions, not gifts. Children, and even adults for that matter, will not always remember what gift you bought them this Christmas, but they will always remember the way you made them feel. Memories are what people remember, not store bought gifts. Try to focus more on the memory making, and less on the stress of trying to get it all done, be the perfect host, or buy the perfect gifts. Your value does not lie in what you do or what you buy, but how you love.
5. Remember to tuck one or all of these verses into your heart, or put them on a slip of paper on your bathroom mirror, and commit them to memory. Each time you begin to feel the chaos of the season bearing down on you, recite one of these verses out loud. When our hearts at peace, our holidays can be too.
Romans 14:17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 29:11 The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 51:12a Restore to me the joy of your salvation….
What great holiday stress-buster tip can you share about avoiding stress and setting unrealistic expectations during the holidays?
(Email subscribers: Visit my blog to share your tips in the comment section.)