The Inner Path: The SMART Rules To Staying Spiritually Balanced During The Holidays

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
 Roman 12:2 (NIV)

We're all undaunted with stress at one time or more during the year, but one of the most stressful times of year is during the holidays...Thanksgiving and Christmas, specifically.  Even though they are generally suppose to be happy and fun, somewhere long the way the stress; unrealistic expectations, unreasonable demands, too many responsibilities, and all their attachments show up and the next thing you know, you're depressed, over-tired, and dreading the whole "holiday season." So how do you prioritize all that's Christian about the holidays with all the other stuff creeping in over time?  Here are some smart tips to help you keep your focus on what's truly important during the season and still satisfy family and friends.

 Be SMART and Reduce Holiday Stress!

 

  1. Make your plans specific and early: The sooner, the better. Decide what's truly important and necessary as a family. Having Christian priorities means putting "all that's Christian" at the top of the holiday list. 
  2. Be mindful of your extended family members and make them aware of your holiday season plans, well in advance, if possible: Explain them how you plan to focus on what's truly important. It may mean less gift giving amongst family members and more to needy families. Or perhaps it means you won't be spending every available dollar on decorations and holiday parties, but rather on things that will make your family truly understand and appreciate the intent of the season. You set the example and you'll be surprised how others will follow your lead. They just need someone to show them the way. 
  3. Appropriate and evaluate all your family's scheduled holiday activities: Only participate in those that you can honestly say you're attending because they bring you joy and contribute to your Christian holiday season. Don't feel pressured to attend any event you and your family did not agree upon. 
  4. Realize the holiday pressure of others: Putting pressure on others to meet your expectations adds a lot of unnecessary stress on them. Remember, they're facing the same things you're facing during the holidays. Be conscious of there schedule as well and cutting people some slack will go a long way toward doing what you can to help others reduce their holiday stress level. 
  5. Talk real Talkwith your family when discussing your budget and make a commitment not to overspend: There's nothing Christian about getting into debt just to satisfy the unreasonable demands and expectations of others... or even you. Keep in mind that God always looks at motive, no matter what you do.  So, use this time to re-evaluate your priorities as towhat you're spending, and why you're spending it.

Being a "Christian at Christmas" requires a deliberate and conscious effort. The world continues to get more commercialized, so be the example for you family and friends and renew your mind to keep the focus where it should be... following a plan of action and sticking to it.  Being a Christian at Christmas, sometimes, means you have to fight your way through the noise to get to all that's Christian about the season, but with these SMART tips, your focus will stay on what Christmas is all about.  And this is a great opportunity to let others see you "walk the walk" and "talk the talk."........ saying you're a Christian is one thing, actually being one at Christmas shows what you're really made of.

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