Overcoming The Holiday Blues
By Drenda Keesee
As you unearth dusty decorations from storage and call relatives to make holiday plans, your once manageable calendar starts to look like an endless to-do list. They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for many people, the holidays can be busy, stressful, and can result in feelings of anxiety and restlessness.
How do I cope with holiday stress?
You might feel guilty even asking this question. Don’t be ashamed to admit that the holidays can be overwhelming. Whether you are overly busy, or spending the holidays on your own, emotions are heightened during the holiday season.
One of the best ways to have an enjoyable holiday is to let go of your expectations. Take ownership over the things that are in your control and surrender the things that are not in your control. The holidays are a wonderful, but sometimes painful, reminder of just how much is out of your control. That’s okay! When you feel things are out of control, God wants you to trust that He is in control. Psalm 55:22 tells us, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (NIV).
Keep your eyes on God and He will help you overcome your anxiety. He will bring you through the holiday season feeling refreshed and renewed!
How do I adopt an attitude of positivity despite my negative circumstances?
When holiday stress and anxiety creep in, positive thinking will help you keep your eyes on what is good in your life. Negative thoughts can snowball out of control, so you have to make the choice to stop negative thoughts as soon as they start. You can master the skill of positive thinking. Believe you can do this. God does!
I encourage you to stand on God’s Word as you navigate the holiday season. He wants to guide you in all areas of your life. He wants to help you refocus your mind-set. Each time you have a toxic thought, find a Bible verse to cast it down. You can think right! Do this and you are one step closer to discovering a better you and a better life!
Letting Go of the “Perfect” Holiday: Avoid Letting Circumstances Dictate Your Happiness
I see many women fall into disarray as they try to create the perfect Christmas. A great way to manage holiday stress is resisting the urge to create the “perfect” holiday; it doesn’t exist. Holidays are no different than any other day. There will be things that go right and things that go wrong. Good holiday experiences depend on realistic expectations. When you feel yourself getting anxious or overwhelmed, take a deep breath and reboot.
Will family and friends remember whether or not they received your perfect Christmas card?
Will your children remember you slaving away in the kitchen to make dozens of perfect cut-out cookies or remember whether or not they received the perfect gifts?
Your friends, and family, especially your children, will remember you spending time with them; they will remember feeling the warmth of your love. Loving others is all that is really required of you this holiday season. Faith and love are the values that will make your family prosper.
Don’t forget, children model what they see. When you set a standard of perfection, your kids feel pressure to be “on” all the time. Letting go and accepting whatever comes your way with an attitude of gratitude will teach your children to do the same. Some of my best memories with my kids was how we laughed our way through the messy times.
The holidays are a reminder that there is so much that is out of our control. Christmas is an annual reminder of the fact that we needed a perfect Savior to be the sacrifice for our imperfect sin. Rejoice in your imperfections! It is the key to admitting you need God’s perfect grace.
Stop Surviving the Holidays and Learn to Thrive
Most of us know that the holidays can turn a family schedule inside out and upside down. As you attempt to balance various commitments, like school plays, family parties, shopping for gifts, cooking and more, try to hold on to some amount of normalcy in your house.
Balancing all your commitments
Between cooking, shopping, cleaning for company and more, you might start to feel like the holidays just mean more work for you and your family. Remember, you can say no. Try to avoid over-committing yourself using these practical tips:
- Sit down and carefully select your holiday activities. Avoid rushing several activities in one day.
- Alongside your to-do list, create a NOT to-do list.
- Create a blank space, everyday, that you can use for yourself.
You should have joy when looking at your holiday calendar, not anxiety. The holidays are a time of thanksgiving and rejoicing. Saying no to some holiday events might be difficult, but think about it this way: the more carefully you manage your holiday schedule, the more enjoyable the holidays will be for you and your family.
Staying in the Moment
Stress is a staple of the holidays and it can leave us feeling overwhelmed and anxious. If you are not careful, Christmas becomes nothing more than a flurry of overwhelming tasks. Spend a few minutes each day focusing on the moment. Instead of waking up in the morning with thoughts of your to-do list, start your morning with prayer on your lips before your feet hit the floor. Make this your routine. Don’t let stress and worry control you. Starting your day with God means starting your day with an attitude of gratitude. God’s direction will give you the encouragement and power to surpass your problems!
Letting Your Positive Attitude Be Your Anchor During the Stressful Holiday Season
Remember, your attitude will determine your situation, but shifting from a negative mindset to a positive one, depends on your willingness to notice the negative thoughts when they come. Once you are able to catch the thoughts, before they spiral out of control, you can practice reframing toxic thoughts.
For example, if you feel buried by holiday tasks or family drama, stop, breathe, and fix your thoughts on something for which you are grateful. Philippians 4:8 tells us “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV). When you master the skill of positive thinking, circumstances don’t dictate your happiness, you do! One of the best ways to overcome the holiday blues is to change what you are thinking about. Change your attitude and you will change your life!
Making Time to Reflect
Don’t just think about getting through the holidays—think about how you are going to savor them. Our time on earth is precious and God wants us to savor every day, but if we are too busy to see our blessings, they feel further and further away.
The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on what you have experienced in the past twelve months and reflect on your dreams for the new year. God wants to see you living your dreams. He wants to help you live a better life! A negative attitude is an obstacle; it keeps you from having peace.
The holidays are not about decorations, or gifts, or a month-long excuse to overdose on holiday comfort food, it’s a time of deep reflection. It’s about offering up our gratitude for the greatest present human beings have ever received: salvation!
Making Time For Yourself: The Importance of Self-Care
The holidays often cause anxiety and stress and leave us feeling sad and depressed. Practice self-care by checking in with yourself. Ask yourself, “How are you doing?” “What do you need today?” When you focus all your energy on the needs of others, you will have nothing for yourself at the end of the day.
Don’t forget to fill up your well before you give of yourself. Picture the oxygen mask speech that the flight attendant gives before takeoff: safely secure your own mask before you attempt to help others. If you are not strong in your spirit, and in your body, how can you expect to help others? This can be especially hard for mothers of little ones. So often, we think, as mothers, that we have to do everything and be everywhere; however, taking time for yourself and your needs is not a bad thing. In fact, when you care for yourself, your child will model that self-care. Make the best of your time by:
- Avoiding ruminating over negative thoughts by getting into God’s Word. God wants to bless you and help you get your mind right for this holiday season.
- Getting into nature: fresh air and physical activity can do wonders for your body and mind.
- Taking part in church activities or other charities that focus on the true meaning of the holidays
Lack of self-care and holiday stress can cause depression. If you are experiencing a loss of interest in activities, trouble sleeping, please reach out to your Pastor or a local counselor in your area. If you are experiencing thoughts of death or suicide, please dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
It’s okay to not be okay. I want you to know, you are not alone, and you are better than you feel.
Having a Joyful Heart When Dealing with Unbelievers
One of the most difficult obstacles to staying joyful during the holiday season is dealing with unbelievers.
Resist the urge to be negative. During the holidays, family dinners can quickly turn into political and religious landmines. When you run into an uncomfortable situation, which is inevitable for many people during the holidays, follow these simple steps:
Trusting your gut. God will let you know which conversations will be fruitful and which ones will not. If you sense someone is not open to your faith, it’s okay to not engage. Everything has its proper season.
Being a light. Show your faith by your actions. Psalm 103:8 tells us “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Christmas is about joy, because we have a savior who made eternal life an option. Don’t get the enemy a foothold; protect your peace by praying for unbelievers. If you have loved ones who are unbelievers, one of the best ways to love them, is to hand them over to God.
Staying grounded. Take comfort in your Christian friendships. Keep in touch with the friends who ground you. Jesus ministered to unbelievers, but he kept His friends, His disciples, closest to Him. Your fellow believers have insights and wisdom; look to them for encouragement and advice, and, most importantly, prayer.
Being Grateful. Every time an uncomfortable situation arises, think about something for which you are grateful. The longer you think negative thoughts, the more powerful they become, so it is essential that you pull them up by their roots and right away! As you practice being mindful of negative thoughts, it will become easier to cast them down.
Simple Answers For Helping You Have Peace During the Holidays
1. How can I have a relationship with God?
Salvation is a free gift; all you have to do is ask! Romans 10:10 says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Starting a relationship with God is as easy as believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord and asking Him into your life.
2. What are some simple things I can do to keep my stress levels low during the holidays?
- Create a budget and stick to it. Don’t try and cure your holiday blues by buying gifts you can’t afford.
- Plan ahead. Allot certain days for baking, shopping, etc. That way, you avoid doing things last minute, which always leads to stressful situations.
- Don’t quit your healthy habits. If you go to the gym several times a week, keep going. If you are a avid reader, don’t abandon your book. If you need 8 solid hours of sleep, make sure you get it.
Keeping up with healthy habits helps you avoid falling into unhealthy ones during the
3. How do I ask for help to cope with the holidays?
Seek out your pastor, a local counselor or a support group, to get the support you need.
Consider volunteering at a local church during the holiday season. Acts 20:35 tells us, “the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” In giving to others, we recover our joy.
4. What if I just can’t kick the holiday blues?
It might be time to start new traditions and rediscover yourself. Visit a friend or relatives
that you haven’t seen in awhile. Take a vacation and go somewhere you have never been.
Sometimes getting out of depression requires a change. It’s O.K. to shake it up for the
holidays. Do what is healthy
for you. Your relatives and friends love you and they will understand.
5. How do I navigate the holidays without a loved one?
Coping with loneliness after the passing of a loved one, especially around the holidays, is
very difficult. When you feel sad, you might want to isolate yourself from others, but that just increases feelings of depression. The hardest and most important thing to do is get out of the house. Be active.
Also, be patient with yourself. It’s O.K. to grieve. Remind yourself that you are not alone. God is right there with you. Psalm 34:18 tells us “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Listen in Now to Faith Life Church!
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Tune in for their weekly messages here. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.