With Thanksgiving just ending and Christmas and Hanukkah just weeks away we are fully in the Holiday Season.
I remember being a little girl bursting with excitement this time of year. I loved everything about the holidays and especially everything about Christmas. I loved getting in the car with my grandmother and driving through neighborhoods full of ornate Christmas light displays. I loved adorning our Christmas tree with lights and colorful ornaments and waiting with expectation for the shining presents underneath to be opened.
The holidays can either be a time of excitement and joy as it was for me as a little girl or for others a time when joy is harder to find and keep. The National Institute of Health even found that “Christmas is a time of year people report high incidences of depression” (psychologytoday.com). For some this is undoubtedly the most exciting time of year and for others it couldn’t be a more painful reminder of the difficult relationships or lost loved ones in their lives.
For whichever scenario relates more to your holiday experience I want to encourage you it is possible to find and keep your joy in every season, even difficulty or in times when it seems we may be lacking or are waiting for the answers to our prayers.
Here are 7 tips for Finding and Keeping Your Joy this Holiday Season:
1. Make a Joy List
This can be one of the most fun and therapeutic activities when the “holiday blues” attempt to bring you down. I took the advice of JLO founder Mrs. Lee and in a moment of discouragement took out a pen and paper and wrote on one side everything that brought me joy and on the following side the situations that were troubling me. By the end of the exercise I was filled with newfound encouragement over every blessing I had previously overlooked in that moment. I’m sure you’ll discover as I did that your joy list will likely far outnumbered the list of things that are bothering you.
2. Make time for Loved Ones
Its easy to get busy in the holiday season with finals, cooking, shopping, or simply the day to day grind of life. However, studies have shown that social isolation, even for individuals who naturally consider themselves introverts, quickly leads to depression during the holidays. Spend time with those loved ones that make you smile just thinking of them. Solomon wrote about the value of relationships saying that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
3. Focus on what brings you Joy and Peace
There are times when it seems like everything going wrong is demanding our attention. In those moments a sea of emotions can seem to well up around us threatening to take us under with them. Those are the times that when focusing on something, even if it one thing in our life, that brings us joy and peace is so vital. For me sometimes just taking a few minutes to stop and thank God for just one small area in the midst of negative circumstances in my life will shift my emotions entirely.
4. Ignore the little things that steal your Joy
As I found in the activity where I wrote my joy list and a list of things bothering me, the things that were stealing my joy were much more trivial than they originally seemed. Still tend to things that need to be taken care of, but while doing it remember the bigger picture and the fact that even the things that bother us today are only temporary.
5. Take time to rest
While for some isolation can bring depression, for others the sheer business of life can bring stress and anxiety. Allow yourself time to rest and rejuvenate. Whether it’s taking a long hot bath, drinking a cup of tea with a favorite book, or simply closing your eyes and soaking in your most loved worship songs, taking time out to rest is needed to keep our joy and peace in the midst of busy lives and schedules.
6. Soak in the Sun
That’s right, soak up the sun! One of the major causes of increased depression in winter months is simply a lack of sunlight exposure. Exposure to the sun helps our bodies release a hormone called serotonin which helps boost our mood (“What Are the Benefits of Sunlight?” Nall). Try to take a quick walk in the morning or if weather permits, eat your lunch outside during 10 am-4 pm when the sun shines at its strongest (sunsafetyalliance.org). My son and I take daily visits to the local playground to get much needed outside time for both of us.
7. Know that God rejoices over You!
There is nothing more encouraging than knowing our Heavenly Father takes delight and rejoices over us! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us God is literally in our midst, rejoicing and singing over us! When we wake up He is right there celebrating another day He is able to spend with us, singing joyful songs we might not hear but that He sings enthusiastically to express just how much He loves us. I pray this truth penetrates our hearts and fills you with unspeakable joy this holiday season!
What brings you the most joy in your life? What tips will you be trying out this holiday? Feel free to share in the comments below we love hearing from you!