It’s almost Christmas! For some, this is a good season, full of love, joy, anticipation, and connecting with family and friends. And for others it’s a time of deep loneliness and pain. Holiday blues are real. Regardless of your sentiment about Christmas, here are some ways to thrive through the holiday season as you care for your body, mind, and soul during this time.
Some people get so overwhelmed with doing that they need a holiday to get over the holidays. Travel, spending money, planning and executing all the food and decorations and gifts and events – it wears you out. Have you missed the real meaning of Christmas?
Others dread the holidays every year, or perhaps especially this year. This season may remind you that you don’t have the family you wish you did, or the family you do have is super dysfunctional, or you can’t be with the family you wish you could be with. There’s more emptiness in your heart than ever. The lights and music and decorations feel more like a cruel joke.
So in the remaining days of this season, let me encourage you to pay attention to the dimensions of your being that most need care. And here are a few suggestions.
If you’re the busy type, you may need a reminder that you are a finite human being. You cannot do everything. Your body has limits. Jesus, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas, while on earth experienced the limits of being human. Don’t pretend you’re not human; you’re not God!
You may need to say No to some things – to spending more money than you have to spend, to attending more events than your body can withstand, to worrying about what other people may think if you choose to take care of your body as it needs. Saying No is OK!
If you’re the lonely type, you may need some encouragement to engage your body rather than vegging out in front of the TV. Put on some warm clothes and get outside for a walk. Notice the food you’re eating; junk food or too many calories will only leave you feeling worse.
Do something in your physical environment that is kind to your body. Light a candle. Put up a single Christmas decoration that’s meaningful. Listen to some music that you enjoy. Let your senses take in some goodness that’s meaningful for you.
Overwhelmed, lonely, grieving, depressed, frustrated – whatever your emotional trap, you have more ability to tell your mind what to do than you probably realize.
Choose who you spend time with. If there are dysfunctional family members who expect you to be a part of their Christmas, you get to choose how much time and mental real estate you allow them to occupy. Put your energy into the people who are able to engage meaningfully with you. If some people are unhappy with your decisions, that’s on them. If you’re lonely, spend some energy finding a place to volunteer and give of yourself; that will definitely lifts your spirits.
Choose the input you allow into your mind. Social media, standard news sources, etc. can sap your energy and put you in a bad mood. You can say No to some of that; the world won’t stop if you don’t “keep up!” If you’re struggling, you may have to do extra work to limit negative inputs and find positive inputs that nourish you.
And make sure to bring Jesus into this; we are about to celebrate His birthday, after all. Tell Him all about your emotional angst. Allow Him to be with you. Don’t carry the need to figure it all out or make something happen; ask Jesus where He wants you to go. And then just follow.
Remember that when Jesus was born, He came right into the middle of a mess. Giving birth is always difficult, especially for first-time moms. Imagine Mary’s labor pains, the mess of delivery, all the physical challenges of being in a stable to have her baby. And then there’s all the political, religious, and economic struggle, conflict, and mess that Jesus was born into. He was truly born into the middle of a mess.
It may be that your life is a mess also. Or at least part of it. Don’t make the mistake of keeping the messy parts to yourself. Jesus doesn’t ask you to clean up the mess first; He wants to be a part of all of it.
When Jesus was here on earth, things never stayed the same when He showed up. And they won’t stay the same when He shows up in your mess either. Remember that Jesus didn’t come in swashbuckling with a violent revolution against the political, economic, or religious authorities. But His very being on earth was a revolution, an invasion into enemy territory. His birth was not the end of evil, but it was the beginning of the end – the assurance that God will not stop until everything, everything, has been made right.
What of your mess do you need to invite Jesus into the middle of this Christmas? Where do you need Him to be born anew in you?
In these last few days before we honor the birth of Jesus, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the season, invite Jesus into the middle of where you most need Him, and celebrate that the best is yet to come.
Your Turn: What does your body, mind, and soul most need this holiday season? How do you plan to choose the nourishment you need? I’d love to hear from you; leave a comment below.
Want More? Our podcast episode this week is with Jerry Jenkins – about story! And make sure you’re subscribed to our podcast on YouTube or in your podcast app. Starting December 25 we will be celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas – better known for Christians as Christmastide. Daily 5-minute episodes for 12 days will offer a Scripture and brief thought to nourish you in this season.
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