Jeanne Takenaka

How do we thrive through the holidays when our world encourages us to live stressed? 

Being versus doing, especially in a season as busy as the pre-Christmas weeks, can leave us depleted. We know we should spend time simply being with Jesus, but our to-do lists drive us to mark them off. Often, this comes at the expense of our health, our sleep, and our sanity. 

As I considered how to thrive through the holidays, I pondered what I (we?) can do to maintain a quiet heart in our culture. 

Image of the nativity, a reminder of what we're really celebrating during the Christmas season

Our culture has ripped out the sacred aspect of Christmas as a holy day, degrading it into a chaos-filled holiday. This season has morphed from a time of contemplating Jesus’ birth and His gift of redemption to a time of crazy-busy, frenetic activity, buying, and indulging.

11 How To’s to Help Us Thrive Through the Holidays—Our culture has ripped out the sacred aspect of Christmas as a holy day, degrading it into a chaos-filled holiday. #tellhisstory #Christmas #thriving Click To Tweet

Which is what led to last week’s post. I began thinking about “gifts” that help us to thrive through the holidays as we prepare room for Jesus in our hearts on His special day. 

Image of gift bags o a table...we can give ourselves gifts to thrive through the holidays

Gifts we can give ourselves to thrive through the holidays

Gifts for our Mindset:

Our mindset will determine how well we practice being in this season that pushes us toward doing.

  • Be purposeful in the activities we choose for our family. Finding the things we enjoy doing as a family can create great memories and refresh our souls. Decorating the tree together? Driving and viewing Christmas lights? Planning to watch a seasonal exhibit or show? Whatever it is, try to plan at least one activity our families enjoy.
  • Focus on those we love. It’s okay to say no to a work party in order to create special memories with our children or those close to us
  • Say yes to some things that fill and refresh us. Whatever this looks like, take the time to do something that refills us.
  • Let go of non-essentials. I love, love sending and receiving Christmas cards. But some years, our family has had to forego this tradition because everything required to send them would stress me out. Prioritizing our Christmas preparations sometimes requires us to let go of activities we enjoy.
  • Lower our expectations. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I hold myself to high standards. I’m learning to lower my expectations for all I thought I could accomplish and be for others to ease the burden of stress.
Snowy, white trees . . . symbol of peace we can have when we don't become too busy

Gifts of Time:

We only have a certain amount of time to spend in this season. Let’s give ourselves gifts by how we spend our time.

  • Time spent with Jesus regularly. This is essential! Jesus-time refreshes our spirits and renews our perspective for each day.
  • Get enough sleep. When I deprive myself of sleep, I become short-tempered and stressed out more quickly. We should aim for seven-to-eight hours a night as often as we can.
  • Plan ahead so that, in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, what we do can be purpose-motivated. When we move into this season with a plan, we feel more peace and less stress.
  • Plan flexibility into our season. Be okay with saying no to an activity if there are other, family-important considerations. Or, if the thought of adding one more wonderful thing adds a sense of overwhelm in our thoughts and hearts.
  • Downtime. Especially when we feel tattered, we need to take time to refresh. This may look like sitting with a cup of something hot and reading the Bible. A nap, watching a movie, or another activity that refreshes us will restore a sense of peace in our hearts.
Image of a child's hands holding an angel . . . sometimes simplicity helps us thrive through the holidays

And finally, set boundaries around our time. Let’s prayerfully prioritize what’s most important. Determine ahead of time that we will not push those aside because of: 

  1. what others expect of us, or 
  2. what we feel obligated to add on later. Evaluate each additional activity by what’s most important.

“Important things” may include activities we want to experience with our family, lessons we desire our children to learn this time of year, and fun memories we want to make (our priority list should help us see this). 

If the possible commitment doesn’t meet our criteria, it’s okay to say no.

Image of a Christmas tree casting peaceful light into a darkened room
11 How To’s to Help Us Thrive Through the Holidays—There will be some activities and tasks we want or need to do, but let’s allow our Father to be our filter on His priorities for us #tellhisstory #Christmas #thriving Click To Tweet

Conclusion

One final thought on giving ourselves permission to live in these gifts . . . when we choose to say no, especially when we’ve prayed about our response, we need to trust that we are doing the right thing. Guilt wants to drive us. But, God doesn’t intend for us to live in guilt. If guilt tries to creep into our thoughts and hearts, we need to ask God for His perspective. He doesn’t call us to live stressed, He invites us to live trusting His plans . . . even when they oppose others’ plans.

As we venture further into the Christmas season, let’s take time to pray and evaluate what God’s priorities are for us. There will be some activities and tasks we want or need to do, but let’s allow our Father to be our filter. Then we can maintain a sense of being during this doing-oriented season.


What about you? What helps you thrive through the holidays? Do you have items to add to my list?

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