What if We Gifted EMPOWERMENT to Ourselves This Christmas?
The holiday season brings joy and cheer, but for some it can also bring stress and anxiety. Maybe you had experiences through the year that left you feeling a bit lonely this holiday, and changes have left you with feelings of worry. That is very common and you should not feel alone.
Last week, as I cleaned and re-arranged the store, I was not being careful and tipped over the dressing room mirror! OUCH. 'UGH, great', I thought. No worries, I'm okay and it happened before opening hours. Something magical happened afterward though. As I was picking up the broken pieces, I said to myself aloud, "Alright, take your time, you are cleaning up broken glass, you have to carefully take your time."
Are there broken pieces from 2017 that you are trying to clean up in your life? If so, let's pick them up together.
As you are planning and shopping this holiday, I thought, what if we GIFTED EMPOWERMENT? Who wouldn’t love a fresh new pair of winter booties under the tree this year? (You know I do.) But material gifts only go so far.
Every woman has her season and we are all in different stages. So much comes at us: the kids’ holiday program, the family gatherings, dinner with friends we’ve missed through the year, gift shopping, work events and deadlines...Must. Get. It. Done.
LET'S GET STARTED
I. IT’S COMPLICATED. SO, LET ME EXPLAIN. Start by describing what you feel, to yourself. If you write it on paper it will be much clearer than if you explain it aloud to yourself or someone else.
II. STRATEGIZE. How am I going to help myself enjoy the season without adding additional stress to my life? Maybe you do have to hit ‘decline’ on a party invite and make time to pamper yourself.
A. I FEEL ALONE.
Loneliness is tricky. You can feel lonely in a room full of family, simply because. What works for me is going to church. Even if you do not attend church regularly, hear me out. Going to church and sitting in the pew, even alone, helps you tons! The minister is sharing a message that can speak to your heart and current situation. The room is full of people with good vibes and positivity, welcoming you with smiles and open arms. It reminds you that people do care. And if a stranger can show that much care for you, you’ll remember that your loved ones actually DO care, even if you feel they don’t understand. And if you can feel safe and present with complete strangers, you can enjoy the holidays knowing you can feel safe and present with those you love.
B. I FEEL ANXIOUS.
What a crazy year of violence we have had! That alone is enough to wonder as we gather together in the settling dust of a string of mass shootings (including the November attack in Texas), IF we can actually enjoy the holiday in peace. Some of us will look closer to home and deal with the aftermath of family feuds, or tension in the workplace. Take time away and pray. Sit in silence or soothing music if you'd like and relax. Feeling guilt or burdens of responsibility can leave you feeling anxious. We can deal with guilt, possibly, by simply asking for forgiveness and make things right. Get a healthy time of rest and make sure you are eating well. Not doing so could make your anxiety worse. Research natural supplements and natural herbal treatments for anxiety. This eliminates you experiencing extra side effects from medications and may do the job to help you chill without having to take medication. Read, listen to music, or go jogging to release it all. I read the Bible and it helps me A LOT when I get anxious, nervous or afraid.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
C. I FEEL OUT OF CONTROL.
Eek, this could be a result of many things. As an example, if you are a new divorcee going through the stress of daily negative communication with your ex-spouse. Self-control. Don't allow yourself to go there. And by there being the war of the words, be it by phone or in person. Heartbreak. Just don't...we all need that self-control. Or if you emotionally over-eat and excuse yourself this time of year to make yourself feel better. Try pausing as you chew and notice your breathing. Doing that can help prevent you from eating too quickly and you’ll be able to notice when you feel full. Or if you have struggled with addictions, like alcohol, and unsure if you can make it through Christmas and NYE parties. If it’s an addiction or you are simply trying to stay away from it because you’re afraid you may emotionally drink your cares away - get a lot of support. Let others know about your sobriety goal and have a personal trigger that keeps you from going there. Ask if you can bring your own refresher, like a fizzy and festive mocktail. Make it fun, cheers!
D. I JUST WANT TO SPEED UP THE HEALING PROCESS.
“I’m fine, it is what it is.” She said. ‘Hmmm’, I thought, ‘I would not be fine if I was in your shoes girl. A divorce is a lot to go through’. Lauren* is a dear friend and customer. “Like I want to be okay with the cards dealt to me and just heal already so I can get on with my life. He left, has a new wife and I need to just hurry up and get over it.” Just like the broken mirror in my store that day, there are tragic events that occur in life where we must carefully take the time to patiently restore ourselves. Some events lead us to experience hurt, pain or loss, and leave a very broken mess in our lives. Sometimes, it cannot be something we just hurry up and heal from. Give yourself a break, let yourself mourn or cry. Be ok with the yucky feelings that come from damage done. Feel them, process it and get some good counseling to help you through it. Keep positive voices around you of support, who will motivate and influence you to improve. You may need to hit pause, or even end some relationships, and that is okay. Take the time to heal.
*Names are changed to protect identity.
E. I JUST DON’T WANT TO GO THIS YEAR.
OMG I feel you. I don’t want to go to certain gatherings either! Eeek. Anytime I don’t want to do something, but I absolutely must - I turn it into a game. Okay I know it sounds silly, but just hear me out, it works. You have to go but are dreading every moment prior to and just dying before you even step through the door. Make it a game by setting rules, determining a winning score and a grand prize if you 'win'.
- SET GAME RULES: Rule number one can be, “Just smile.” If you smile when you greet anyone you get x points. Rule number two can be, “Give ___(person you are not fond of)____ a genuine compliment.” And you get x amount of points for that. And so on…have fun with it.
- DETERMINE YOUR WINNING SCORE: Set a goal of how many points you need to ‘WIN the game’ at the end of it. At the end of the night, tally your points to see if you 'won'.
- REWARD YOURSELF BIG. Whatever prize you’d like. For me it wouldn't be something big necessarily, just something I like. For example, dessert and wine at my favorite restaurant.
F. I’M NOT OKAY, JUST PERIOD.
You don’t HAVE to do anything. You have options and one of those is to cancel everything and stay home. You can pray alone. You can cry alone. Get it all out of your system. Throw on your PJs. Watch a comedy or your favorite holiday movie. Invite a close friend or relative to join you for a bit, or just snuggle with your pet. Don’t have one? Borrow one, pets are very therapeutic. If it’s not that bad to where you don’t want to be alone, just DO LESS. Make your involvement minimal and simple, and be sure to let people know ahead of time so they don’t expect a lot.
Finally, don’t buy so much stuff.
What!? Yes, just put the credit card down, and blow on it girl it is on fire. You have enough stuff. Keep Christmas simple and say no to stuff that will get lost or broken and forgotten with time. But also say no to stress and no to offenses. No to the hurts people have caused you out of their own brokenness that had nothing to do with you. Say no to unrealistic expectations from your loved ones, say no to rejection. You are MORE than enough, just as you are today. Focus instead on keeping it simple and celebrating the joy and cheer that comes with the season. Make more meaningful memories doing things that sincerely matter to you.
May God bless you with love, contentment and joy this season!