The holidays stir up feelings, many of them mixed feelings. The season also brings up longings; longings for stuff, for people, that our lives were different, or that we’d achieved more during the past year. These feelings can create unrest internally. Below are 10 ideas to help you find PEACE during the holidays.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Say “No”
This hardly sounds right, especially in this season of gatherings and activities. But there are only so many hours in the day, and so many days to accomplish everything. In a season of running here and there, accepting every invitation and activity is unrealistic. It is ok to turn down an offer. Give yourself to intentionally evaluating how you will spend the time you have.
2. Talk About What is Important to You
Is there is a part of the holidays that is especially important to you? If there is, tell those around you. As a child, I always dreaded our family outing for the Christmas tree. My mother never seemed to be satisfied and my father was content with the first tree we saw. This sparked conflict and many arguments. As an adult I realize that having the perfect tree was important to my mother, because she never had a tree as a child. But she never said anything to us. Talk about what is important to you – don’t expect those in your life to read your mind.
3. Lower Your Expectations of Everyone
Let’s be honest, people don’t always behave as we would wish them to; especially during the holidays. This year, try and accept everyone as they are – if you know that certain aunt is going to say something unkind, do not be disappointed when she does. Or beat her to the punch by saying something nice to her. Peace comes from within, and NOT allowing another person’s behavior to disturb your peace … well, that is your work. If this tactic is not practical … revisit #1 above.
4. Stop “Shoulding” on Yourself
Often my disappointment is directed at myself, more so than at others. I “should have” spent more money on a gift, or “should have” sent my Christmas letter earlier, or “should have” shopped sooner. If you’re like me, there is an ongoing self-critique running in your head. The season demands a lot of all of us, be gentle and accept yourself as you are, not as you think you “should” be.
5. Let Go of Something – Anything
I remember the year I stopped sending Christmas cards. I had ordered a huge batch of those clever postcard – photo things. They never went out, and I discovered, that NOT sending mass Christmas cards did not cause any harm. And it was once less thing I “should” do. Find something on your list that you can let go, and let it go. (cue annoying music here …)
6. Embrace the Ancient Tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas – this one is a gift!
Historically, Christmas officially begins ON CHRISTMAS DAY! The FIRST Day of Christmas. The days after the feast are then counted, as in the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Imagine if you could celebrate Christmas – after Christmas. What a relief that could bring. When my children were all grown, we changed our family gathering to be celebrated during that 12 day season. See, I told you this one was a gift, you’re welcome.
7. Remember the Reason for the Season
Duh – I know a trite, overused phrase, BUT take time to stop and remember WHY all the hustle and bustle. Christmas is about the Incarnation of GOD. We are celebrating the truth that at a point in history, God became Man and walked among us! Taking time to reflect on this idea will certainly help with a mindset shift.
8. Exercise Moderation
I have NEVER regretting using moderation, whether it’s in drinking, eating, shopping, or talking. I will exercise moderation in not expounding more on this simple, but peace-filled principle.
It is tempting to stay up late to wrap gifts, or address cards, or complete a project, or clean … but overextending oneself can lead to fatigue, which can lead to illness and irritability. It seems counter-intuitive, but rest just might be MORE important during the holidays.
10. Talk Less, Listen More
The holidays are difficult for some people. Perhaps this is true for you. We all have expectations and unspoken desires. These get pushed aside with all the chaos. Don’t be part of that chaos. Stop and listen to those around you. Give them 100% of your attention, be fully present in each moment. The best gift we can give, is ourselves and our genuine interest in the other.
Before the chaos fully engulfs you, take an intentional 30 minutes to reflect on the simple questions below. Set a timer, get out a journal and turn your phone to airplane mode. Be still and listen. The holidays will come and go. They become the fabric of our memories. Set your mind to finding PEACE this year and creating good memories.
- What are my goals for this holiday season?
- Where do I KNOW I will struggle?
- What will I do, intentionally overcome or avoid this barrier?
- Which of Lisa’s ideas resonate most with me? And why?
I’d love to hear what resonated with you. Leave a comment below, or email me if you want to begin a conversation about finding PEACE.
Keep seeking peace, it’s there to be found. ~ lisa