‘Tis the season to be stressed out, fa la la la la, la la la la….
Really, as a therapist and coach I work with people who start stressing out about December as early as October. Something is wrong with that.
We need to learn how to unlock the peace that we all have within us and make this December (and the New Year) much less stressful. I know these four keys will help because I use them myself when I get stressed out.
1: Keep track of your time.
Track how much time is spent on a screen not related to work. Not in a shame based way, but in a factual way. Track it. Once you have this number then commit to cut that number in half and invest that time in activities that can start unlocking true peace: prayer, spending time with a good friend, playing a game with your children, watching a lit Christmas tree with your morning coffee (I love to do that), and the best one…start meditating!
2: Meditation. (Christians should meditate, too!)
Brain research show us that just six minutes of meditating can start to calm your brain and body!! Just six minutes. If we don’t have six minutes to invest in good mental and physical health, we are just too busy!
Meditating is an awesome way to unlock the peace within us. I absolutely love it! If you have never done it before, here is how this ancient practice works:
First, find a quiet space (this is tough for us part-time or full-time stay at home parents) so I usually do it when the kids are in school. If you home school, you may have to do it when you spouse comes home – talk to your spouse about that so that you can create a relatively quiet space.
Next, select a word or phrase that you can focus on. I love Jesus, and the word I meditate on is “Jesus.” I can’t find a better word than that. I have clients who meditate on the phrase: “I am loved by God,” “I can be clam,” or any phrase that will help us understand how much God loves us and desires that we live in Divine Peace
Then, start to say your word or phrase slowly, repeating it softly out loud. When we as humans finally slow down, I guarantee that a MAJOR FLOOD of thoughts will rush into our brains: what’s for supper, what about the bills, what about my marriage, how is my child doing, I need to check Facebook, etc., etc.
When that happens, simply have a semi-passive attitude toward those thoughts and go right back to your word or phrase repeating it softly out loud. That’s it! That is meditating. It takes practice, but everything worth doing takes practice. I have seen mediation kill stress and anxiety, and I know it can work for you! If you want to read about 2 other proven keys to unlock peace in your life, I invite you to read my second blog about this subject. Peace to you.
3: lower your expectation of your holiday celebrations by not using the word “perfect.”
Many of us put allot of stress on ourselves by thinking we need to have everything “perfect.”
How would it help to simply drop that unhealthy expectation and say to yourself “this year I am not going to worry about the ‘perfect’ party or celebration.”
In fact, in our house, I have banned the word “perfect” (especially during any holidays) unless we are talking about God’s perfect love for us because we are all God’s children!
The word “perfect” is banned because as soon as I say I am going to do something perfect, or expect something to be done perfectly, I have immediately set myself (and others) up for a failure because we are not perfect people…we make mistakes. Please ban this potentially dangerous word.
How much more peaceful would our Christmas celebration be if we dropped the unconscious idea that we have to have things “perfect?”
4: Meaningful gift giving.
Many of us are very stressed out about giving or getting the “perfect” gift. Once again, drop the word “perfect.” And, let’s all think about giving meaningful gifts this year. If your shopping is all done, you can apply this to next Holiday Season (or the next time you buy any gift for somebody).
Do you remember your best Christmas gift? Think about that…mine was given to me by my sister-in-law Colleen about ten years ago. I opened up a little magnet cow that attaches so nicely to the fridge and with it a note that said: the money I would have spent on you for Christmas was donated to a village in Africa through Heifer International. Wow, that gift changed the life of a village in Africa for years to come!
Maybe it’s time to stop the insanity of buying stuff made in China that we are going to throw away in three months thereby filling up our landfills, and instead give gifts that can literally change people’s lives for generations to come
Meaningful gifts can take many forms. To give a gift like I received, check out this website: www.heifer.org or think about gifting time together as opposed to a traditional day. I imagine you will have many creative ideas as you start thinking outside of the gift giving box :)
God bless your Holiday Celebrations with true Peace!
>> You may also find this article helpful: What to say to a friend who has lost a close loved one
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