How to {Emotionally} Survive The Holidays

It is officially that time of year again…the holidays. For many women this is the season they look forward to all year. They cannot wait for the smell of pumpkin or pecan pie baking in the oven, the beautiful leaves that eventually fall to the ground, or the first taste of Starbucks® peppermint mocha (my personal favorite).

However, for some individuals, this begins a six week period of dread. Psychologists confirm that November and December can be some of the most difficult months of the year, and they often see a slight rise in people seeking counsel for depression. So, what are some causes of these feelings? And more importantly, how can we not only survive the holiday season but thrive?

There is a change in situation. Depressive emotions can be caused from a major life change during the course of the year, and as a result, the holidays are not the same. Maybe you have lost a spouse, parent, sibling or friend this year. Maybe you or a loved one moved to a different town, and you will not be able to go home for the holidays. Maybe you or your husband lost a job and are now faced with difficult financial decisions. All of these situations can cause intense feelings of grief, which can cloud out the joy, thankfulness, and hope that come with Thanksgiving and Christmas. If this describes you, please know that our Savior grieves along with you and desires to come alongside you and give you His comfort (2 Cor 1:3-5). Also realize that is it acceptable and healthy to allow yourself to grieve during this time. Seek out community with your church family or friends, and allow people to minister to you during this difficult time.

If you know someone who has gone through a loss this year, please do not forget to minister to them. Sometimes all they need is another sister in Christ to come alongside them and let them know they have not been forgotten. Send them a note; give them a call; take them some food; or invite them into your home. Let us be the hands and feet of Jesus to the person in our church or our community who is hurting.

There is a change in routine. The holiday season brings a host of parties and special events that can often lead to burnout and depressive feelings. My husband and I have already mapped out the next few weeks, and our calendar is wrought with one event after another. During this season of busyness, some people begin to shut down and become frustrated with a life void of their normal routine. If this describes you, I encourage you to say “no” to certain events or parties. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is a time and a season for everything. Contrary to what we sometimes believe, we do not have to attend everything. If parties are getting in the way of you enjoying the beauty of the holiday season, then maybe it is time to step back and learn to find joy and rest in spending time with your own family. Instead of going to a party, stay home, pop popcorn, and watch a Christmas movie. A change of routine can be either a breath of fresh air or a burden; this year I encourage you to allow the change to be a blessing in your life.

There is a change in family togetherness. Most of us love our families, and we enjoy the opportunity we have to spend time with them. However, sometimes the holiday season brings too much togetherness. We dread Thanksgiving and Christmas because we know this will be the one time a year where we have to spend time with a relative that we try to ignore the rest of the year. My encouragement to you is to make this year be the year where you seek reconciliation instead of revenge. Second Corinthians 5:17-19 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” WOW! Those are very convicting and difficult verses.

Since we are followers of Christ, then we are new creations. We no longer have to carry around in our hearts an attitude of unforgiveness towards a family member, but we can choose to be reconciled to them. The amazing truth of this verse is that because “Christ reconciled us to himself,” then we get the opportunity to introduce them to Christ. If you are dreading the thought of spending time with a certain family member, then I encourage you to allow these verses become your prayer. Begin praying for them and for yourself. Pray that God would change your heart and your attitude towards them so that you can have the opportunity to show them Christ’s love. If you are in the wrong, seek out their forgiveness. May this holiday season be a time of healing and restoration in your family relationships.

 

I pray that each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and experience JOY throughout the holiday season.