Remember to Breath
by Drenda Keesee
Staying in the Moment is key to overcoming the stress which so often accompanies the holidays as we talked about last week, now let’s dive into even more ways to combat stress so the season can bring more memories and less stress.
Stress is a staple of the holidays and it can leave us feeling overwhelmed and anxious. If you are not careful, the holidays can become 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 or 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 through 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 an 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 a while. 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.”
ps…Are you looking for a good church? Be sure and listen on Saturday evening or catch the 3 services on Sunday for 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 Keesee’s 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 the 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.