What does a restful holiday look like to you?
With the holidays rapidly approaching, I already feel stressed by the demands of the season and all the expectations of family and friends. Add to that the church schedule of feeding the hungry, planning the Christmas program, and hosting parties—all good things but so much at one time is making me anxious. Any suggestions for relaxing and letting go of the dread?
Tips for a Restful Holiday
Starting off on the right foot helps. Before you overcommit yourself and resent it, consider these two options to prepare for a restful holiday:
1. Create a Spiritual Retreat Plan
Set aside a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon for a private personal spiritual retreat. Allow yourself a few hours to be alone with God in an environment that allows you to relax and unwind. Spend time walking through the woods, sitting on the beach, or visiting a garden.
When I spend time reflecting on the Creator of all the beauty around me, it reminds me of how great He is and provides me with a fresh perspective on those things that trouble me.
Research shows that being outdoors in nature is a simple way to reduce stress and anxiety. When I spend time reflecting on the Creator of all the beauty around me, it reminds me of how great He is and provides me with a fresh perspective on those things that trouble me.
Write down the best ideas for conducting your retreat experience. Go somewhere for a minimum of three to four hours, preferably outside enjoying God’s creation. Plan to spend this time engaging in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, biblical meditation, silence, and worship. It should be a place that is quiet and would allow you privacy to read, journal, nap, sing, worship, and pray. Take your Bible and a journal for writing. Turn off your cell phone. Leave your computer at home. Disconnect from the demands of life.
Once you have determined your spiritual retreat plan, inform those who need to know that you will be unavailable for that morning or afternoon. You cannot imagine how relaxing this is. I have found doing these retreats as the most effective way to hit the reset button on my mind and spirit. After this retreat you will be in a better frame of mind to create a plan for making your holidays meaningful and enjoyable.
2. Create a Holiday Season Plan
Create a list of what is most meaningful to your holidays. Make a list of all things that drain you during the holidays. What you can eliminate, you should. Spend your valuable resources of time and money on those things that are important to you. Start narrowing down your “to do” list and begin informing family and friends of what you will not be able to do this year. If you have always hosted the Christmas cookie exchange, you may want to announce that this year you will not be able to host but look forward to an after-holidays coffee with friends. Better to happily give up something than do it resentfully.Stop now and work on your lists of “Things to Keep” and “Things to Let Go Of.” Click To Tweet
The goal should not be “survive the holidays.” You are the only one who can reorganize your calendar in a way that allows you to enjoy the season. You should not make plans or commitments because you are guilted or pressured to do so. Learn to say no and not feel guilty about it. If necessary, approach the holidays with a radical new plan. This may be the year to take that cruise or go on a ski vacation. Stop now and work on your lists of “Things to Keep” and “Things to Let Go Of.”
Stick to your plans and enjoy celebrating the blessings of God and enjoying all His gifts to us.
Consider this season an experiment. Be mindful of what is working and what is not. Keep a list of commitments you’ve made to yourself with you, and review those before saying yes to someone or something when you should say no. Stick to your plans and enjoy celebrating the blessings of God and enjoying all His gifts to us.
Example of a Commitment List for Self/Others
- Schedule one evening each week at home to unwind.
- Write in my gratitude journal one thing I am grateful for each day in November.
- Say, “No, thank you” to busyness.
- Read my Bible every evening before bed in a quiet house in front of the fireplace.
- Do only what I reasonably can with a good and godly attitude.
Cindy Miller is Stan’s wife and ministry partner. They live in Columbus, New Jersey. Cindy has a PhD in Pastoral Care and Counseling and serves as associate professor of practical theology at Urshan Graduate School of Theology.
(A version of this article was published in Reflections.)
Resources and Links
Let’s Talk – In Cindy Miller’s Let’s Talk, she gives straightforward answers to many of our questions. Cindy encourages us at times to probe deep within and become aware of areas that may need attention and adjustment. She shows us the benefits of positive emotions and actions.
To read more by Cindy Miller, click here.