Dec 19, 2019
We all want a peaceful Christmas, but, “life gets busy.” Sometimes we’re forced to slow down, and guess what? We discover we actually CAN let go of some of the tasks and duties that not only weigh us down, but also steal our peace.
Don’t we all desire more peace during the holidays? From November first until the decorations come down sometime in January, and then the credit card bills start coming in, stress and anxiety rise and with it, our peace dwindles. What a shame when the reason for the holiday is the celebration of the Prince of Peace.
What if I told you that you really can let go of some of the anxiety and overwhelm of the holiday season with some simple ways to create more peace during the holidays? It’s true. I’ve been there and have been so grateful for making some simple changes so that I could celebrate from a peaceful place. You can too as you read about ways to create a more peaceful holiday season.
Last week, on Ways to create a More Peaceful Holiday Season Part 1 - Episode 35, we talked about the fact that in order to create a more peaceful holiday season, we need to remember who the source of our peace is. We also started talking about ways to recognize and reduce our expectations of ourselves and others in order to experience less worry and anxiety and more of His peace during the holidays.
So often Paul addressed the people in his letters by saying “Grace and peace to you from God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.” God wants us to experience His peace, But we cannot experience true peace apart from God’s presence.”
So much worry, fear, and anxiety are a result of trying to maintain control of things that we cannot control. And we certainly cannot control others’ expectations. If all the holidays' preparations are a burden to you, whose expectations are you trying to live up to?
Consider sitting the family down to determine what expectations they have. If you didn’t do ____, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas to them. This could mean just sending digital Christmas cards instead of physically mailing cards. Or perhaps you reduce your baking to just baking the family’s absolute favorite treats. Consider lessening the amount of decorating you do to the favorite décor for your family. You might also consider cutting back on the holiday meals to just the favorite dishes or buying a precooked meal to reduce the stress you encounter during the holiday season. Limiting the gift-giving not only simplifies things, but helps you be a good steward of what God has given you, and lets you enjoy people over presents.
Assess why you do what you do? Is it because you’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Is it bringing you joy or draining yourself of joy?
In our gift-giving, I think it’s so important to teach our children that Christmas isn’t about them, but about the greatest gift God could ever give in the birth of His son. And it’s great to take a lesson from the wisemen and limit our gift-giving to those that are the most special way to communicate our love to each other.
We try so hard to set the perfect table, cook the perfect meal, and give the perfect gifts. But one great gift to give others is to release them from our expectations of how they will respond. They will never live up to the expectations in our mind anyway.
Another way to maintain peace during the holidays is to choose our focus. It’s crucial that we focus on maintaining our healthy routines during the holidays. Consider continuing to make time for a daily quiet time, getting in your regular exercise, make rest a priority, and eat well.
But it’s also important to maintain a nightly routine: review your calendar for the next day or two so you aren’t taken by surprise the next day, record the new tasks that come up that must be completed, consider reading an advent reading or similar devotion each evening before going to bed, and pray thanking God for what He enabled you to do during the day and giving him your cares for all your tomorrows.
Another way to choose our focus is to limit technology during the holiday season. It’ll free up your time to get some of the holiday-specific tasks completed.
Another way to choose our focus is to limit negativity and negative inputs.
Also consider helping those who are alone or are going through a hard time during the holidays. Even when you are feeling down, you’d be surprised how helping others will encourage your own heart and bring a sense of peace to your heart and mind.
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Dr. Michelle Bengtson is an international speaker, and the author of the bestselling, award winning “Hope Prevails: Insights From A Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the award winning companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study” and the soon to be released “Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises” (Sept 2019). She has been a board certified clinical neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. This doctor knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to help others be all God created them to be. Using sound practical tools, she affirms worth and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of thirty-two years have two teenage sons and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com and is on most social media platforms. She is also a popular podcast show host of “Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson” at https://apple.co/2madPRo
Hosted By: Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Audio Technical Support: Bryce Bengtson