Ahhhh, Christmas! Parties, beautifully decorated houses, time to sleep in and relax, your favourite Christmas movies, delicious food, eggnog, mistletoe, presents, connecting with friends and family. What could be more fun and festive???
Unfortunately for many of us, the reality of Christmas looks more like this:
- Spending money that we don’t have;
- trying to squeeze baking and cleaning into an already stressful schedule;
- spending time in high tension forced situations with often toxic family members;
- placing ourselves in awkward social environments that only lead us to eat;
- isolating ourselves from the world because we want to avoid all the pressure;
- the painful reminder of the loved ones that are no longer in our lives to celebrate with us;
- and in many cases, depression as we compare ourselves to the dreaded Jones who seem to have it all together.
- And to top it off, we use food to numb the pain of all of the above stress which then triggers a host of other stressors like feeling uncomfortable in our clothes; suffering from sugar (alcohol) highs, guilt and more depression.
So if you find yourself in the second category, how do you survive the Christmas holidays feeling healthy—spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally? Especially when as we talked about last week. Many people put on 5-10 pounds during the holidays (and keep the weight on).
It’s easy to say, ‘turn it over to God’ but what happens when you’re not even aware of what you’re doing, or you’re aware of what you’re doing but deep down inside don’t want stop or worse yet when you know of God’s power but are not able to access it.
1. I believe the most important thing you can do at these times is to reach out to someone else. Reach out to someone who is able to pray for you on your behalf. God never meant for us to handle our burdens on our own.
Of course, in order for others to be able to pray for you, you have to be transparent. You have to put your pride aside and let them know what you’re going through so don’t be afraid to reach out to one or two trusted friends (or within a support group like Haven) to let them know how you’re feeling.
2. Use your ‘go-to’ meals – Christmas is not a time to spend all your days in the kitchen making culinary masterpieces to wow your guests. Yet that’s what many of us end up doing. Baking, cooking, preparing, and cleaning. We spend so much time in the kitchen that we often don’t get to enjoy the company. This Christmas, make the simple, easy meals that you’ve mastered and don’t fret with all the fancy dishes. Remember, your guests are coming to see you and not your culinary skills.
3. Start your Day in Prayer – Don’t wait until you’re confronted with a situation to try to fight temptation. Don’t get caught off guard by hoping that you will have the will power to resist all the temptations that may come your way. Before your feet hit the floor each morning, take some time and turn your day over to God, admit your powerlessness to control situations and ask the Holy Spirt to help you in your times of weakness.
4. Stay hydrated – Water has many benefits. It keeps you alert so that you don’t feel run down and tired which is when you may turn to junk food. Drinking water will also help you maintain regularity and flush out toxins which will make you feel better overall.
5. Focus on the ‘Real’ meaning of Christmas- One of my friends told me that this year for Christmas we are giving each other the ‘gift of savings’. I thought that was brilliant and right away I felt a bit of pressure leave me. Most of us have gotten so caught up in the trappings of Christmas but we have no idea how to stop the madness. Choose 1 or 2 things that you can do that will give meaning to your holidays so that you’re not left feeling remorseful over how much money you’ve spent or how much food you’ve eaten. Start a family tradition of finding some ways to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
6. Be selective about your social outings. If you’re blessed to have been invited to numerous social gatherings, it can be overwhelming—especially if you’re not a social butterfly. Choose to spend time with people who are most important to you and graciously excuse yourself from the rest.
7. Treat yourself with love – God is never judging or condemning us yet we feel like we need to always be judging ourselves. If you’re anything like me, by January 2nd you can’t wait to take down the tree and get back to ‘normal life’. We sometimes do so much that we rarely leave time for our own self-care. During this Christmas, I encourage you to take some time and practice just relaxing; take a bubble bath, relax with a good book; actually sit and do nothing for a few hours and allow your mind to take a break from all the planning and preparations.
8. Plan your Indulgences – I often don’t feel guilt if I plan to eat something. The guilt sets in when I eat something that I don’t want to eat or end up eating more than I planned. So this year, I’m taking time to plan when I’m going to have my ‘treats’. I know on what occasions I will have desserts and when I will have a generous portion of mashed potatoes. The key is to plan and prepare (mentally and spiritually) so that you can actually enjoy food.
If Christmas has left you feeling more like the Grinch over the years then make a change this year. Take stock of how you do things and commit to making a few subtle changes this year.
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!