The Christmas season is upon us with so many special memories of our past growing up years and time spent with family and friends.
We want to enjoy and celebrate the birth of Jesus, but somehow the extras just get added onto the calendar until the focus has been blurred.
What if we were to just pause … and be present in the moment? There is power in taking a pause! Step away from the situation and take a deep breathe. Refresh and re-evaluate what is actually causing the stress.
How can we reduce the stress that we’ve created and return to the focus and miracle of the season? Here’s some ideas..
1. Create a calendar schedule that works backwards. You know when things need to be completed. The baking, the shopping, the decorations - which activities are the most important and how much time is needed to meet your deadlines.
2. Prioritize with your family and decide the most important activities. I may think everyone loves to bake cookies together, but in reality, when I ask them no one really enjoyed it as much as I thought. Maybe everyone loves to decorate the tree, or go to church service Christmas Eve. What are your family traditions that everyone really enjoys together? What are the ones that you don’t need any more? Maybe its time to ask. This may surprise you!
3. Children may be overstimulated this time of year. A lot of schools, churches and other activities and groups they connect with have extra events and parties for the kids and families to enjoy. This can bring with it extra pressure to perform, which can be exhausting for our little ones. They may be getting extra sugar with the sweet treats and less sleep. This may all lead to emotional outbursts of just needing to release their stress. One good idea is to create a quiet time every day. Playing in their rooms, reading books or enjoying a long bath is a good way to unwind.
4. Children also have a difficult time with split families. It’s hard for adults to spend time between families during the holidays. But for children, there could be an overload of emotions – excitement and fun but also frustration and disappointment. This is a time when we need to be sensitive to the needs of the children, young and older ones, who are in our care. We focus so much attention, gifts and activities onto their needs, but perhaps what they really need to experience in this season is a gentle hug and a silent night.
5. Electronic games add to the stress level by increasing the dopamine in your system, much like a slot machine. These can consume a large part of your time and energy. When you stop looking at your computer and other electronic devices at least 1 hour before sleep your body has the ability to relax into a deeper level of rest.
6. Outside activity is always a good stress release for everyone. Have fun together. Create some memories.
7. Say “no”. You may be used to doing everything you’re asked to do and doing it well. That’s why you’re asked! But each time you add a new commitment or responsibility to your calendar, you’re adding stress into your life. Try something new. Resist the urge. Just say no.
8. Evaluate your gift list. It’s so fun to buy new decorations and presents, but we can’t buy love and joy. It’s your PRESENCE that matters the most! Many people don’t need much to make them happy. Keeping within your budget will help cut down the stress level.
9. Journal. This is a special time of year that God will reveal His love. What is He saying to you? Allow Him to open your eyes to see what He sees. This is great way to end each day. What are you thankful for today?
10. Make time for fun! This might mean time with your friends, or date night. Be intentional and schedule it onto your calendar!
11. There are so many opportunities for the temporary “high” from caffeine and sugar, chocolate and extra treats. Remember to eat healthy. It’s tempting to eat fast food, because we’re in a hurry. By cooking extra food regularly, then putting it in the freezer, it will be quick to heat up, and better on the budget! And remember to drink lots of water!
12. Finding a way to remember our loved ones who have passed on is also important. Perhaps putting their picture on the tree, or using an item for special decoration will allow your memories of them to join in the celebrations. The Christmas season can emphasize our loss, but knowing they are with us in our memories can help the healing process.
During the past few years, I’ve been through a process of letting go. It’s been difficult, as I’ve learned to downsize and simplify my life. I’ve learned to recognize the most important things aren’t things but people.
By simplifying life, I’ve learned to just pause."
He wants us to rest … to just pause …
We’ve gotten into the habit of taking pictures and videos of what’s happening. Maybe it’s time slow down and make a memory picture! It’s easy to take a quick photo of what is happening around you. But instead, try taking a picture in your mind. Realize the sounds and smells around you, the people who are there with you. Close your eyes and recognize how you feel … right now in this moment. You will remember the details of this time. As a child you may remember a certain smell – maybe it’s freshly baked bread, or sawdust in a workshop. The memory returns. It’s not lost in the 1000’s of photos in your phone. And this is how it is with a memory picture! Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and just pause ... to enjoy the laughter of the kids, savor the taste of that freshly baked cookie, hear the beauty in the voices of the choir or stand outside in the gentle twinkling of the snow fall.
And in the silent night, when all is calm ... learn to just pause … and rest ... as you receive His gifts for you – the gifts of His Love, His Peace and His Joy!