With only 9 days left until Christmas, 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.
When I start feeling Grinch-like, I’ve learned there is only one solution….. a change in my personal outlook. You know, sometimes we are our own worst enemy – expecting too much of ourselves, and setting unrealistic expectations, and then beating ourselves up when we either can’t do it all, or we get grumpy along the way, slowly morphing into the Grinch. So today I want so share a few holiday stress-busters to help you make it through next week with a smile on your face, and joy in your heart. These are certainly suggestions that I need to not only suggest, but actually implement in my own life as well. 🙂
1. Ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Consider writing out a list of what you expect of yourself, your holiday, and everything on your shoulders and 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 realistic? Are you expecting people and situations to be different, secretly knowing that they won’t? Are you setting yourself up for frustration, becoming overwhelmed, or discouragement? If you see any red flags, ponder how you can change your expectations so that you can have a more realistic outlook of what can/will occur and set new goals or lists accordingly. Set priorities and scratch off goals that are seemingly impossible. Then sigh a deep breath of relief.
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. 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.
4. Keep in mind that children, and 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. Tuck one or both of these verses into your heart this week, or on a slip of paper on your bathroom mirror, and commit it to memory.
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 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,and make me willing to obey you.
As I’ve said before, when our hearts at peace, our holidays can be too. Tis the season to be joyful and peaceful!
Have you ever received a great holiday stress-buster tip that you can share about avoiding stress and setting unrealistic expectations during the holidays?