Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Important Ways to Get Emotionally Ready for the Holiday Season


One of the things I hear most often from clients is "I don't have time to _____________".  The blank is usually something like "fall apart", "deal with this", or "work on this".  There is a sense of an enormous tidal wave of emotion that will be experienced, and concern that, like tidal waves, clean-up will take years.  Even more so, NO ONE wants to open up that place where the emotional waves are surging during the holiday season!  (There is a kernel of wisdom behind this thought!)

But it is often the added activity of the holiday season that brings personal stress to the point that these emotions begin to spill over what ever mental "sand bags" have kept them in place.  Having a "mini plan of action" can help a person manage the holidays and actually build a strong internal framework that will aid the healing process AFTER the holiday season.


Could you have unresolved issues feeding your secret thoughts and heart issues?

Some evidence of this possibility is:

1.  A clinging sense of guilt, even with head knowledge that God has totally forgiven you and accepts you,
2.  A sense of lack of control or desire to control even when life is full of goodness and abundance,
3.  Not quite sure of what "normal" is so you are always second guessing your decisions, and
4.  No amount of prayer and/or Bible Study seems to move the heaviness and insecurity so you have this little nagging thought that you are too broken for God to fix, or this is just "your cross to bear" but the hopelessness is getting a little too heavy to bear.
5. You have forgiven the persons who hurt you, but you still sense that surge of emotion (you're not even sure what to call this emotion) when you think of or see the individual(s).  You wonder, "Have I really forgiven them?" 
6. You are VERY responsible, and the holidays are a time when your responsible creativity can shine as you make the perfect holiday, the one you always dreamed of as a child...and yet this dream of the "perfect holiday" is what is driving you a little crazy at the moment...


A Suggested "Plan of Action"

1. Make it a priority to spend some time with God daily.  Try for at least 15 minutes a day.  Every time, lay down your desire to make everything perfect at His feet.  Lay your plans down as well, and examine them with His gentle presence along side of you.  As Creator of the Universe, He is the master planner and organizer.  He will show you what to pick back up and aim for in preparations.  Leave the things He doesn't give back to you...last year He laid on my heart to go very simple with my Christmas decorations and preparations, and when I (trembling) presented the new plan with my family, they were 100% behind it, and the result was truly peace and joy!

2.  Take note of when you become irritable with those closest to you.  If the holidays are times to make family memories, you being angry isn't one of the memories you want to instill in your family!

Are you angry?
Try "shelving" it until you have some time to process it.  Then make it a point to find 30 minutes of private time to examine what was fueling the anger.  I have a 30 minute journaling exercise here that will help the processing...believe me, take that 30 minutes!  You will feel better and you can spend a lot more than 30 minutes picking up the "emotional" pieces of everyone around you after an temper explosion!

Hungry?  
Sitting down to a cup of tea, apple slices and some peanut butter or cheese may be a fun little tradition to add into the holiday preparations - and can help "reset" everyone's emotions.

Tired? 
That little bit of tea-time I mentioned above can provide a 15-20 minute break that will refresh you in the middle of the day.  But there is no substitute for a good night's rest.  If you have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep, high quality lavender essential oil rubbed on the feet is an in-expensive and powerful sleep aid - the hidden issues can cause sleep problems, so this one may take more effort to manage.

Feeling unloved (lonely).
This is the hardest one.  It is never a quick fix.  It can be rooted in perfectionism (i.e., if I am not "perfect" I do not deserve love).  It may be that you need to begin loving yourself as Jesus does!  And your family cannot provide what is needed here.  You must find your worth in what God says about you first.  So, since change here is a long process - begin right now!  This one area is where having access to the internet shines!  Make a pinboard with truth quotes, search for inspirational photos and words online, follow facebook business pages that are all about inspiring and encouraging people, make your own "comfort box" and collect these inspirations to have in the real world (I'll post a "how to and what to include and link it here, later).  Finally, reach out to someone and share with them.  Ask them to be an accountability partner, someone you can be vulnerable and honest with...someone that will accept you and all your self-perceived warts!  It will bless them, promise!  (Ask the Lord who He thinks will be a good person for this task)

Reset to love and grace, and let the performance fall by the wayside.  Remember the story of the loaves and fishes.  When we submit our meager offerings to Jesus, He multiplies it and everyone has what he or she needs and in abundance! 

3.  Let go of control and enjoy the mess that is bound to hold a message.  This is closely related to number 2.  Irritability and control have a tendency to go together.  You CAN control your emotions, your time (to some degree), your behavior...and order is to be desired.  But be flexible instead of rigid.  The world probably won't come to an end because things aren't going exactly as you had planned.  In fact, Jesus is STILL on the throne when things don't go as you planned!  And there is a chance that the resulting memories are even BETTER than your dreams.

4.  Make lists. 
a) You probably have your Thanksgiving menu all planned out - if not, as you gather your recipes this year, consider making a folder, online or in real life, of all the go-to recipes you use, all the ideas for decorating, and ideas for fostering a peaceful attitude through the holidays.  Being intentional like this might seem unnatural at first - but it will help create and maintain that peace you are longing for!

b)  Make a list of fun outdoor things to do before autumn is over - crunch through leaves, have marshmallows around a bonfire, maybe one last picnic, a nature walk to collect items for your Thanksgiving table decor (you can do that this weekend!), gather the supplies for a wonderful spicy stove top pot-pourri mix, and more! 

c)  But the list no one really talks about is this one (it doesn't have to be neat and orderly!) and you may want to keep it someplace private...a list of the people you are dreading being around during the holiday season!  I know, shocking!  But don't stop there.  Think about what is uncomfortable about them, and then make some plans of how you will handle the inevitable awkward interactions.   There is not enough space on the web to anticipate all the possibilities, but here are some ideas to give you a pattern of how to create your own list.  Planning ahead also gives you time to enlist the help of others if that is needed.

Situation 1 - a family member always gets drunk.  If you are at someone else's house, your plan might be that you will leave if that person becomes too mean or inappropriate.  If you are married with children, this leaving may need to be discussed in advance.  If it is at your house, you might find a time to let that person know in advance that he/she will be asked to leave if they become drunk or you can stipulate that there will be no alcohol consumed while at your house.  If you don't think you can do either one of these options, do you have a "safe" family member that you can be close to when things get uncomfortable, one that will give you encouragement and support?  Having this thought through ahead of time is empowering!

Situation 2 - There is that one family member who is always putting everyone else in the family down.  You feel like a child again yourself when this person is around.  And you know that criticism will be directed your way.  Options include: have encouragement prepared in advance to counteract the criticism...for yourself and others.  Quotes, verses from the Scripture, and armor of God (Ephesians 6) in place can be a help.  Know where your "safe" person is the find them quickly.  Depending on the words used, you can even "agree with your accuser" but add "thank you for pointing [that] out...and God isn't finished with me yet...".  The "thank you" has a way of disarming the critical person, and it knocks the "fiery dart" of the comment away from finding a bulls-eye in your heart.  Since the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, making constant intercession, your non-defensive response joins your spirit in the intercession as well, and you can have confidence that the situation has been lifted to heaven already (see Romans 8:26-30 and Philippians 4:6).

5.  Spend time in the Scripture, especially in areas that affirm what God says about His children.  In fact, reading and meditating on the entire chapter of Romans 8 will be a great way to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare for the holidays ahead!

I pray these steps help you through this holiday season - don't hesitate to contact me (leave a comment on facebook is the quickest)!


Till later, beloved...
Cindy

{5 Important Ways to Get Emotionally Ready for the Holiday Season first appeared on 12 Tribes on November 20, 2014}


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