3 steps to overcoming holiday stress

It’s no secret that I love making the most of every opportunity to create magical memories around the holidays! And I LOVE sharing those ideas with you… Just take my latest blog posts, “Mom’s Make the Magic” or “How-to Make a Homemade Holiday Advent Calendar (in under an hour!)” for example! But the other side of that coin is a whole lot of holiday hustle stress that this season can bring! Talking with my mom about how things have changed the other day made me realize that social media has added a whole new element to this! We see what everyone else is doing and when and, in turn, we feel the pressure of a timeline to complete our holiday to-do list that may or may not be full of things we don’t even care about. We see it in our magazines and the aisles of Target… Our favorite bloggers are decorating for Christmas and sharing gift guides earlier and earlier -and don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the resources!- but sometimes I can’t help feeling behind. Anyone else take a look at the calendar this time of year and feel a little freaked out about how it’s all going to happen?!

A couple weeks ago, weighed down by the fullness of our schedule, I started a mini-devotional called “Breathing Room” on the YouVersion Bible App based on the 28-Day Women’s Devotional by Sandra Stanley and one main point really stood out to me: She basically stated, “it’s the fear of missing out that steals our breathing room – the space between our pace and our limits.” I hadn’t previously considered the fear of missing out as something that drove me, but this changed my view. At the end of day one she challenged readers to look at their calendar and ask, “What’s one thing I agreed to attend just because I was afraid of missing out or disappointing someone by saying no?” BOOM. I was convicted. This is a challenge for me all year long and I know I’m not alone in that, but somehow this time of year kicks the busyness into high gear! Suddenly I’m looking at my calendar and feeling panic over fitting the fun into the commitments and that’s not how I want to remember this season! So how do we change it?

Here’s a few of my best tips for soaking in this season without letting them suck you dry!

Plan for the priorities

I’m learning this one the hard way! But the meaningful moments aren’t always going to create themselves! So instead of evaluating our schedule after it’s gotten away from us and trying to fit in the fun, I’ve decided those things are worthy of our plans. I’m making a greater effort to decide on the things that are valuable to us at the start of the month; to determine our priorities and plan for them! This holiday season there were things I knew were important to me to make time for and in order to do that, it might mean saying no to other things – and that’s okay!

Planning for priorities isn’t a one and done solution though! This takes regular reevaluating. My challenge to you: Make a list of things that matter to you to make happen! It can be anything you want… you get to decide your priorities! Then, set aside time to sit down with your calendar (make sure your significant other is in on it if you have one!) and find a time for those things! If you want to take it one step further, set boundaries for yourselves about how many commitments you’ll let yourselves take on! We don’t have to let the holidays just happen to us! It’s up to us to make them magical (and up to us to decide what that means!)

Fight off the fear

Where do you fall on the FOMO scale? Do you ever let fear steal the space between your pace and your limits? Maybe it’s just a desire to seize every moment and take advantage of every possibility. You might just be an extrovert who loves socializing and doesn’t realize they need a break till it’s too late… Maybe you’re afraid of disappointing others if you say no. So then you push out the things you enjoy trying to make everyone else happy? Maybe it’s a reflection of a bigger fear, like what missing these moments might mean in the big scheme of your future?! Let me remind you of some words I wrote in one of my favorite blog posts a while back, “What God has planned for you will not pass you by!

"What God has planned for you will not pass you by." (From Lauren Carter @laurennoelcarter and TheGuestRoom.blog)

The Bible says God’s intention for us was always “life to the fullest!” (John 10:10) The proof is in his vision and creation from the very beginning of Genesis! He never meant for us to go through life making our decisions based on fear. In fact, “Do not fear” is one of the most common commands in the Bible! We won’t ever experience true freedom if we’re believing lies from the enemy that dictate our decisions – and our calendars! So take a look at what you’ve penciled in for yourself over the next few days and ask yourself, “can I conquer fear by cutting back on any of these things?”

Choose cheer!

All that being said, part of being an adult and a member of a community is participating! Some seasons allow for more of this and some seasons for less, but ultimately… you can’t have a career without putting in the work. You can’t build solid family relationships without presence in the moments. You can expect community without engaging in the lives of others…. it goes on. Not all commitments are bad! Anything of value requires investment. Sure, we can be more intentional with the objects of our investment and the volume, but to cut it all out in the name of simplicity comes with its own sacrifices. Where’s the balance?

Only you can decide that! I’ll tell you one for sure truth though: for every magical moment of wonder you experience with your child there’s many behind the scenes interactions of discipline and patience. Every big work win is preceded by hours of effort that aren’t so glamourous. And for every miraculous movement of ministry seen, there’s prayer and practical service being put in to make it happen. Basically: Sometimes you have to do the work that isn’t “fun” or “your passion” in order to reap the rewards of your ultimate desires. It all comes down to the life you want to lead. So determine that and be willing to put in what it takes to make it happen. And while you do it, do it as if unto the Lord! (Colossians 3:23)

We’ve got to shift our mindset away from “I am a slave to my schedule!” Instead we’ve got to think, “I am, ultimately, in control of this calendar. I could choose to scrap all these things that are filling it, but do I want the eventual consequences of that choice?” Then move forward with the resolve to make the most of your time with an attitude that reflects purpose, not resentment. We might not always LOVE everything we choose to allot our time to, but we truly have the power to choose our attitude in the midst of it. Might as well choose joy! After all, this is the season of Joy to the world! If we don’t bring it, who will?

I so hope these practical steps challenge and encourage you in this season! They have been huge for our family and, even in our busiest seasons (like right now!), they’ve helped us to somehow still feel like we’re thriving instead of just surviving!

If this post blesses you, will you do me a favor? Will you share in on your facebook or instagram so that more people have the chance to read?! (You can just use the buttons below!) It would sure bless me huge! 😉 ❤

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