And 6 ONE THINGS you can do to simplify this year
Dr. Randy Carlson
Christmas can be a time of inspiration—a season when you feel more bright and happy about the world and about life. But it can also a time of great difficulty, especially when you allow all the pressures of the holiday season to get to you.
The holidays are not only hectic and stressful times; they also come laden with high expectations—that this year, somehow, things are going to conclude on the right note. And, sadly, those expectations rarely line up with real life.
I believe you can have yourself a very intentional Christmas this year, and in years to come. Let me share six don’ts that can help make this Christmas a success.
1. Don’t Over-expect
You’ve often heard me teach the principle – expectation minus reality equals disappointment. I’ve discovered that it’s around the holidays that people are best at throwing reality right out the door.
- Keep your expectations in check.
- Accept the fact that you can’t control your family members.
- Resist the urge to tell them how they’re messing up their lives and what they should do to fix them when you get together with parents, siblings and grown children.
- Confront family issues ahead of time. Address it before everyone gets together. It may be hard for you to do, but it’ll ultimately be worth it to everyone at your holiday gathering.
2. Don’t Overwork
Think of yourself as though you were a marathon runner. Long distance runners often assume that once the soreness has left their muscles, they’re recovered, but experts recommend a marathoner take one day off from training for every mile they run in a competitive race. The same holds true for the “holidays.” If you overwork and overstress, and fail to take moments other than bedtime to actually rest, you’ll decrease your spiritual and emotional muscle to the point you may never get it back.
3. Don’t Overeat
Of course, overeating usually results from stress and causes more illness – and here’s a harsh reality. Studies have shown that just one pound of weight gained over the holidays sticks with most individuals for life. Medical officials recommend a disciplined approach of eating three of the four food groups at every meal, and limiting consumption of high fat foods and alcohol. But this proves difficult for people who respond to the high stress and pressures common to the holidays by eating. Holiday eating can appear quite harmless, but unless you’re careful, it can affect your health in years to come.
4. Don’t Overcompensate
Many people try to pack all the joy they can into the holiday, in many cases trying to make up for a bad year. Don’t overcompensate, but allow yourself to feel sad. The ideal that you’re just supposed to be super-happy during the holidays is not realistic, especially if you’ve recently lost a spouse, or are facing your first Christmas after your children have left home.
Recount the things you are thankful for especially the little things.
5. Don’t overspend
The materialism associated with Christmas, and the perceived need to buy everyone everything they’d like to receive as gifts, can snuff out the true meaning of the holiday – the celebration of the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Here are three very basic rules to follow when it comes to Christmastime spending:
- Plan ahead – have a budget and don’t overspend
- Don’t borrow – work with cash; and
- When you run out of cash, run out of buying.
Money can’t buy happiness. It’s a Biblical truth – Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”
6. Don’t over-commit
There’s the dinner party with your co-workers, the events and parties you have to attend with the kids, your friends insist to have you over to their house…and that doesn’t even include the family get-togethers already on the agenda. You over-commit your time and your energy – and you end up suffering from another common holiday malady…a lack of sleep.
Embrace the freedom to say “no.”
Our tendency is to overdo everything during the holidays.
Here are some SIX ONE THINGS you can do to simplify this year.
- If you tend to over-expect, simplify by stepping back and determining the reality of what you can and can’t do, and be happy with that.
- If you overwork, simplify by rescheduling your priorities and being sure to set aside specific time just for yourself to rest and recharge.
- Instead of overeating, simplify by controlling your portions, deciding to eat only selected desserts and goodies in predetermined amounts, and not neglecting exercise.
- If you’re someone who overcompensates, simplify by embracing your emotions, allowing yourself to be sad, but coming out of that quickly by seeing the positives that are present in your life right now.
- Don’t overspend. Instead, simplify by determining now what you will and work spend, within your budget, and stay with that.
- And rather than over-commit, simplify by embracing the freedom to say “no” to most of the requests, prioritize only what is most important, and get lots of sleep.