By Jazmyne Butler
With the holidays quickly approaching, many are excited about visiting family and friends and spreading holiday cheer, but thoughts of loneliness, financial concerns and just the mere pressure to be cheerful can make some feel sad during what is supposed to be the most joyful time of the year. Regardless of challenging circumstances, focusing on gratefulness can make your holiday season brighter.
#1: Appeal to Your Senses.
Whether you enjoy a warm mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows or a cup of herbal tea, delighting yourself with a tasty treat may do more than just satisfy your taste buds. Feeding your five senses may help change your mood.
Open your window shades and let sunlight in. Brighten your home by decorating a Christmas tree, illuminating the room with lights or filling the room with music that prompts relaxation. Whether it is Christmas carols or gospel music, listen to something that encourages your best mood.
Jan Banks, a former mental health therapist of seven years from Vicksburg, MS, emphasizes the importance of self-care and a positive environment. “You really have to focus on me time,” Banks said. “Whether it’s working out, quiet time, meditation or listening to soothing music, it’s important to take moments to yourself. Surround yourself with positivity and things that encourage and uplift you.”
Scholars have concluded that certain pleasant fragrances can have a positive effect on your mood. Light a candle of an aroma that calms and uplifts you, allowing that scent to boost positivity.
#2: Take Care of Your Financial Obligations.
“Tis the season to be jolly,” but be sure not to over-indulge in “retail therapy,” which is sure to be a temporary fix. Don’t create more problems for yourself, by creating or increasing debt or not saving for things you really need. Proverbs 22:7 states, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Plan your purchases well, and budget. Better yet, teach yourself how to be content with what you have. Free yourself from overspending and challenge yourself to stay within the parameters of what you can afford.
It is a great gesture to buy nice things for those you love, but think of the reason behind the gift. Are you making the purchase out of routine or to impress the recipient? If you want the receiver of the gift to know that they are appreciated, then by all means, buy them whatever your heart desires, but be sure to tell them what you feel about them. Perhaps you can buy a blank card and express how important they are to you. You never know what they are going through. A small gesture, like a hand-written note, may be worth more than what mere money can buy.
#3: Focus Less on Self.
This season is a wonderful time to practice consistent gratefulness. Throughout the hustle and bustle of our lives, we sometimes fail to recognize our blessings until hard times hit. Depression weighs on us many times because we are so focused on our own situation that we forget that others might be experiencing challenges too. Spend time this season serving others, especially those who are less fortunate. A trip to a nursing home, a local food pantry, or a homeless shelter are ideal ways to give back. You can find people who are in need of food and warm clothes all around you.
“Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? – James 2:15-16 (NLT)
#4: Reflect on the True Reason for the Season.
Remember, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Overcome the temptation to be distracted by “things,” but delight in His wonder. It is sometimes a difficult task to interpret the true meaning of a commercialized holiday, but remember, Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Pastor Leonard Walker stresses the importance of putting gifts into perspective. “We should place more emphasis on the greatest gift that was ever given. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that he gave,” Pastor Walker shared. “We need to share this wonderful gift with others continually.”
The Holiday season is an opportune time to actively reconnect with the Christian faith, especially if you have drifted throughout the year. Watch the Nativity Story or visit a live Nativity Scene. Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). I challenge you to use this time to be transformed by renewing your mind, and prayerfully, you’ll develop resolutions for the new year that pertain to things that will truly last.
Nothing money can buy will come close to the love of Christ.