Guarding Your Soul This Christmas. By Chuck Allen
I love this time of year, or at least I’ve convinced myself that I do.
I often think that I reminisce of how I’d like to remember Christmas more than I actually love this most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer, well that’s just a line of bull. I have yet to hear anyone jingle-belling, and no person I’ve been around over the past 3 weeks has been sharing good cheer. As a matter of fact, I’m busier than I’ve ever been and everyone I know is stressed to their limit.
But that shouldn’t make for a blue, blue Christmas. It just might need to remind us of what makes this the hap, happiest season of all.
For centuries, we have all basically agreed that what makes this season so wondrous is 1) Christ’s birth, 2) family, and 3) presents. But what if Christmas means a little bit more?
What if Christmas means freedom, peace, and hope?
- Christ has come to free us from the tyranny of sin and death. That’s true freedom!
- Jesus came to reign and rule as the Prince of Peace. We all need more peace in our lives.
- The Son of God came to offer hope for tomorrow and the reality of Heaven.
Okay, Chuck, that’s enough preaching. I need a little help here. Do you know how busy I am? I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. I cannot be in three places at one time.
There isn’t enough of me to go around, and the expectations are through the stinking roof.
I hear ya! So, here are
FIVE WAYS TO GUARD YOUR SOUL THIS CHRISTMAS.
- STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE! Create a prioritized list of tasks. Then assign days and times to them. Be sure you prioritize each day’s tasks. When you think of a new task, place it in a “parking lot.” A parking lot is a separate page that captures your must do’s to prioritize to a time and day. If you don’t learn this simple habit, your mind will run wild and your negativity bias will run amuck in your head. Make a list, then prioritize, update every evening for the next day. Capture those nagging reminders in your parking lot and move them to tasks as you plan each day. To create a good working list for December, plan for a 20 minute timeframe. To prioritize daily, plan for less than 10-minutes. Stop the merry-go-round and prioritize your tasks. It will change you life!
- LET IT GO, LET IT GO! It’s been determined that 90% of what we fear never actually happens and the remaining 10% is most often out of our control. To fear that which probably will not happen is a fool’s errand. To fret over that which you cannot control is to invite stress and anxiety upon you. Let it go! Take hold of what you can control, and that is your attitude and how you respond to adversity and fear. The single greatest way to confront fear is to invest in faith. That’s where the next three items come from.
- DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? Engage in mindful quietude each morning. This might be the single best piece of advice that I’ve written for you. We are a people surrounded by noise, and most of it is our own doing! The rest is created by a world that is paid to grab our attention. Still your soul and use a solid meditation app, like SoulSpace or Glorify. Research has proven that just 5-minutes of mindful quietude can provide huge mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. If you are running hard and chasing the dream, you’ll eventually hit the proverbial wall. STOP! Crawl out of bed, or finish your evening with 5-6 minutes of mindful quietude and watch how much more at peace you experience in your soul this Christmas.
- IN THE MEADOW YOU CAN BUILD A SNOWMAN! I live in Georgia, so it’s not a snowman, but I can build steps. I am living proof of a person that said for years, “I don’t have time to walk.” Well, I don’t have time to live in stress, anxiety, fear, or fret either. The science is in – walking, for most people is as good for you as running. FOR ME, IT CLEARS MY HEAD, AND GETS ME CENTERED WHERE GOD WANTS ME CENTERED FOR THE DAY!
Harvard Health said it this way:
- Walking counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
- Walking helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks. This should help level out those holiday mood swings!
- Walking eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.
- Walking boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
- MARY DID YOU NO! Okay, bad dad pun. But here’s the real deal. Using the overcommitted Christmas season to learn the fine art of saying NO will help you in so many ways. Most of us are people pleasers to varying degrees and learning to say no can save us from ourselves this holiday season. Much of the frustration in my life is created by me, and most of it is because my pride, and pleaser mechanisms are still learning to build healthy boundaries. Boundaries aren’t just fences to keep things out, they are also to keep the right things in. When I allow my ego, pride or desire to please run wild, I create an unsustainable life. At Christmastime, it is heightened to the breaking point. Save yourself a huge frustration and predetermine a few key boundaries which will set the pace for what you will say yes to, and some that you need to say offer a no to. You’ll be a much happier human for Christmastime!
It can still be the most wonderful time of the year, but you have to take control of your season for that to happen. I trust these simple steps will help you experience your greatest Christmas season ever.
Go in Peace, Chuck