The holiday season is a high-pressured time. The season’s greetings can bring unrealistic expectations, societal pressure, and busyness from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. If you do not feel well emotionally and mentally in other times of the year, the holidays can be even more overwhelming. It is taught that the holidays are about others with giving and sharing. However, if we are not intentional with our boundaries and self-care, the holidays can quickly become blue and paralyzing.
This is a common perception of this time of year, and so common that many of us even dread the holidays. Our sense of being down can include feeling too fatigued to meet our own expectations of what the holidays should look like. The season’s forced cheer and familial culture can cause us to feel lonely and isolated.
The good news is that there are ways to be empowered during this chaotic time. I hope that with a plan, anyone can participate in the goodness of the Advent season. Here are some ideas on how to take care of yourself and stay balanced during Advent.
- Boundaries are crucial during the holidays. If there is an event or holiday party that will not offer yourself life, then practice saying no thanks. We can avoid feeling depleted by saving our schedule for events that we know will help us in this season.
- Go to events that will bring comfort and solace. Even if we are feeling taxed, sometimes there are invitations that will be good for our souls and worth it. Try to make it to those events even though it can be hard to leave home. This will also help with the isolation so many feel during this season.
- Attend a service or special Advent event at a different faith community from the one you usually attend. Sometimes a fresh setting and a new experience during Advent can help us realign our hearts towards Christ. For instance, some churches might offer a type of service that your church may not such as the Lessons & Carols service, Longest Night Service, community caroling, or a children’s Christmas pageant.
- Build a routine that includes helpful practices for you. Perhaps starting the morning with an Advent devotional by a favorite writer, breathing exercises, meditative coloring, being outside, exercising, or any other daily routine that gives your day a sense of grounding.
- Develop productive self-talk. Often we have guilt or burden this time of year that originates in the way that we perceive ourselves and in our negative thoughts. We can change this by practicing self-grace and compassion.
- Reading the Advent scriptures with the ancient practice of Lectio Divina. This practice helps us read, meditate, pray, and contemplate the scripture.
During the holidays, it is helpful to remind yourself that you are loved as you are by our God. You are not alone in the multitude of feelings and stress that this time brings. However, with intentionality and grace, hopefully you can enjoy this season the way it was intended. I offer this prayer during this time:
God of light and love-
Nourish me with your Spirit.
Help me love myself the way that you love me.
Help me love others the way that you love them.
Let me my day and outlook be grounded in your Hope.
In your truth- Amen.