Are you tired of 2016? Exhausted by so many personal, national and even global events that seem to have gotten completely out of hand? Do you feel hopeless? Sad? Perhaps a bit depressed?
If the loss of a loved ones, opportunities, health or just life in general is getting you down and you just want to hide under the covers until the holiday season is over, here’s the first piece of comfort: You are not alone.
Eight practical peace tips
I want to encourage you to peek out under the covers for some handy tips on getting some peace (if not as much quiet as you’d like) this Christmas.
1. First of all, change your focus. There’s plenty to be thankful for – warmth, food, friends and family; there are always people to love somewhere, no matter how lonely you are. Reach out, go share some kindness with a lonely hospital patient or elderly person. Gratitude and a focus on others is the main thing that will get you out of a sulky, miserable, holiday slump.
2. If having meals with certain family members is stressful, limit your engagement. You have a right to enforce personal boundaries for self-respect. Don’t let other people’s lack of boundaries ruin yours.
3. Be proactive – make a list of everything that makes you anxious in the holidays. Then ask your partner or a friend to help you plan solutions and possible alternative options ahead of time. This will let you feel more in control.
4. Once you’re done sorting out the list of events/activities/situations that make you anxious, don’t forget to also make a list of the things YOU would like to enjoy, activities that will help you relax and create special memories with your friends and loved ones. Prioritise it so that you can at least do the top two or three.
5. Make rest a priority (especially if you have chronic health issues!). It’s normal to feel exhausted at the end of the year. Even if your holiday is very short or if you have to work through most of it, plan on giving yourself some obligation-free, private recharge time. Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to say yes to every invitation and every single item on the to-do list.
6. If you struggle to handle conflict and anticipate any situations over the holidays that will require some peace-making skills, it may be well worth reading up on some conflict resolution skills to equip yourself. Giving yourself tools to handle the toughest parts of your holiday (whatever they are) will help you feel less overwhelmed and drained by it all.
7. Get OFF of Facebook and social media. Focus on living and being present where you are. Comparing your staycation with other people’s unrealistic, champagne-ridden, party-splattered newsfeeds is NOT going to give you any peace. If you’re not careful, it can be a guaranteed recipe for self-pity and depression, rather than inspiration. Unplug. Try reading a list of classics or get through some of the books yon your to-be-read pile instead. Or do something creative and tackle a new craft project. Then you’ll have something special to show for your holidays!
8. Last, but definitely not least: remember the reason for Christmas – Christ Himself. He is the Prince of Peace. It’s not so much about the baby Jesus as it is about the fact that Jesus came in the flesh – flesh that experienced fear, pain, loss, grief, anxiety as well as joy, laughter and fun, just like the rest of us. He came to give us hope, the gift of eternal life by believing in Him as Lord. He gave us Himself. Without Him, Christmas is a rather empty, consumer-driven, do-good trip that holds little substance when the wrapping paper is all torn.
Jesus Christ can do much more than Santa
He waits for you to come to Him – not with your list for Santa, but with your heart. Your brokenness, your joy, your hopes, dreams, disappointments and weariness. He will give you real rest for your soul. The kind of rest that lasts longer than Christmas dinner, drinks and dessert and that goes far beyond getting everything you want. He is bigger than the financial struggles, the health challenges, the family history of arguments and broken relationships. He alone can fill your heart with the deep, inexpressible peace you long for.
The other, crucial reason for Christ as the center of Christmas, is that He will come again. If you get to know Him, you will recognise Him on that day, when He appears in all His heavenly glory. You will recognise Him as the One who carries you through every year, every day and every moment.