While for many of us the Holiday season is filled with joy and family, for a lot of people it adds up to be a blue Christmas. (I'm sure Zoe, Claire, Maggie, and the gang can attest to spending holidays feeling way less than jolly.) You don't have to be a demon slayer to have some dark shadows that haunt you and keep you in the dark when the rest of the world seems so full of light.
But you don't have to let the darkness win. You are stronger, remember? While I can't promise the shadows will be completely vanquished as easily in our minds and hearts as the one's Claire lays waste to with the sword, I do think there are things we can do to lift our heads and find some peace and joy this Christmas.
1. Nurture Positive Thoughts
I know that is way easier said than done some times. Especially for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. It's really hard to break through those walls in our minds that imprison us in sadness, fear and loneliness. (Sometimes you can't do it on your own and getting counseling or seeing a doctor can make all the difference.) Easy or not you can take steps to take charge of your thoughts and make a decision to look for the good, no matter how much bad you may feel like you are swimming in.
To get our minds renewed and refocused, try finding some Bible verses or quotes that encourage and inspire you, ones that life you up and remind you that you are powerful, chosen, loved and never alone. Write them down on post-its and stick them all over your house. Create a Pinterest Board you can scroll through often. Maybe even decorate a small Christmas Tree with little tags you've scrolled those quotes on.
Another step is to take a few minutes each day, maybe as you lay in bed and, if you're like me, all the anxious and negative thoughts start to swarm, and make yourself think of three good things from your day. They can be big or small, as long as they are good. Take it a step further and write them down in a gratitude journal. On days when you have a hard time thinking of good things, go back and read what you wrote on previous days. NO matter how bad things are, there is always at least a little bit of good we can hold on to and find hope in.
2. Connect With People
When we are down, it's easy to isolate and disconnect. But that only feeds depression and loneliness. So make plans with friends. Spend time with family. You don't have to do huge holiday activities. Watch a movie. Bake cookies. Drive around and see some Christmas lights. Play board games. The point is, find some people to hang out with.
If you don't have friends and family you can go to widen your net. Maybe join a community choir or book club. If your church, or a church in your area, is like ours there are tons of small groups with things going on that you can join in with and maybe even make a few new friends. (Our church for real has a board game group that is tons of fun and anyone can join in anytime.)
The point is, even if you feel alone, you aren't. If you open yourself up just a little bit and look around, you can find some people to connect with. So don't do the holidays alone.
3. Do Good For Someone Else.
This kind of goes along with connecting with people but takes it a step further. Find a way to volunteer some time to do good for others. Take the focus off of yourself and help meet someone's else's need. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Offer to build gingerbread houses with some foster kids so their parents can go Christmas shopping. Hand out hot chocolate and blankets to the homeless. You get the idea. Sometimes doing for others what we wish someone would do for us (showing a little love, compassion and giving a little time) is just the medicine we need to start shifting our perspective of our own life to a healthier place.
4. Feed Your Spirit
Jesus isn't just the reason for the season, I firmly believe He is the ultimate answer to what ails us. Now, that doesn't mean everything will just be all holly-jolly and we won't ever have pain and sadness, but I know for certain we will always have hope. I don't know what you believe, or whether you already go to church or not, but maybe make a point to give it a try this Christmas. Lots of churches have cool plays and productions or awesome services planned this time of year. Go spend some time seeking God's presence in a church community.
Whether you go to church or not, spend some time seeking Him this season. Pick up your Bible and read about Him, learn about Him, get to know Him a little better. Even just taking time to watch movies like The Nativity Story might be good for your soul. When all else fails, talk to Him. Tell Jesus how you are feeling, tell Him where it hurts, and let Him begin to breath love and life into you.
Like I said, I can't promise that doing any of this will make everything ALL better. But I do think it will help take away at least some of those Holiday Blues and bring a little joy back into your Christmas.
PS: Maybe Christmas is 100% Jolly for you and your family. If that is the case, take some time to reach out to a friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc who might be lonely. Invite them to decorate cookies with your family or go with you to that Christmas Eve Candlelight service. The smallest act of kindness could make all the difference for them this season.