Finding Peace of Mind During the Holidays


 

By: Brian M. Murray, MS

Psalm 122:8 (NIV)
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”

It is that time of year. The time when family and friends visit, sometimes planned and sometimes they just show up, and sometimes they just show up for a week or more. Surprise! Shopping for presents resembles a scene like a crowd of people trying to board a subway during rush hour. Then there is the constant competition of people jockeying for position at the checkout lines Holiday traffic on the road begins to challenge time management running late for appointments and parties. There are events to attend at church, work, neighbors, friend get-togethers, and then there is the “surprise” family still parked in the living room wondering what is taking so long.

The children want special gifts which is something that about another half a million other kids want requiring hours of waiting in line at the malls. Then there is the parking, more jockeying for position, tempers flare at the grocery store, baking goodies for the events, and oh yea, the “surprise” family is still at home visiting and dinner is a last minute thought. After dinner the ladder is coming out and up go the Christmas lights and the tree. And then the realization kicks in, the tree has not been bought yet, another oversight leading to thoughts about what else has been forgotten.

Yep, it is that wonderful time of year when people give of themselves until they reach stress levels that soar into a panic. They near the end of their ability to give of themselves and begin redlining into emotional overload. Like the famous Ogre in the scene out of Shrek Christmas “this isn’t Christmas, this is chaos.”

Stop everything! Take a moment and slow down. It does not have to be this way and there are strategies to help manage what can feel like madness. The one thing that is often forgotten about during the holidays is the individual self. Taking time to relax and bring stress down to an acceptable and manageable level is important, especially during the holidays. Schedule time and make a plan to do something just for you and selected non-stressful company. Do not think about it or try to make excuses, take the time. Events get sacrificed, not thyself. There is no rule book anywhere that says people have to punish themselves in the name of trying to do it all.

A technique that is very useful to de-stress is something called mindfulness and creating a mental “safe place.” To do this, find a quiet place with no distractions, closing the eyes, mentally visualize a scene that brings calm and peace. The beach, babbling brooks and mountains are often favorites that bring a sense of serenity. Then, envision the self being there in that moment. This should be somewhere that is non threatening and a place to escape. This is just one way of many ways to combat anxiety and relax the body. There are breathing techniques and meditation that is strongly counter the effects of stress.

Above all else, take some time to focus on God in that quiet moment and know that He is in control of His Kingdom. Christ tells us in Matthew 11:-29-30 that we will find rest for our souls in him as his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Christmas is the time of year set aside to recognize the birth of the Prince of Peace. Take some time to reflect and meditate on the wisdom written in Psalm 46:10, “be still, and know that I am God.”

 

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