By Lisa Hamel
We are headed into the Holiday season, which has its blessings and difficulties. Even thinking about the holidays brings on stress for some people. That’s why I’d like to bring to your attention a major key for your own mental, emotional, spiritual and relational health. Are you interested?
Intentional Appreciation is a Game Changer!
Do you know anyone who doesn’t like Thanksgiving?
Neither do I!!
Being thankful changes our brain chemistry. And a little Turkey doesn’t hurt either. :) Growing our appreciation means finding the things in any situation that are good.
Philippians 4:8 says:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
When we are intentional about making joy bigger, stress and negative emotions get smaller.
We need to be validated in our struggles but then we need to focus on what is good!
You see, God made us to be relational beings. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day. They had a constant sense of His presence because He was with them physically! As Believers, we have the Holy Spirit with us, but often lose our sense of His presence when we are stressed.
Did you know that you have relational circuits in your brain? Just like a breaker box in your house, when the circuits are overloaded by stress or another negative emotion, we can shut off relationally. Does that happen to anyone else out there around the holidays or is it just me?
Though a rather complex idea, the simple way to explain it is that if your circuits are off, you won’t be relational with God or your people. Like losing cell coverage, you will struggle to hear what God might be saying to you.
So how do we get our circuits back on? Well I’m glad you asked. Appreciation is one of the biggest keys.
Psalm 100:4 says: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
In Old Testament times, the gates of the city were a place of entrance. It was the place where business was done. The Psalmist knew what brain science is now affirming. Thanksgiving helps us connect and be relational!
Finding even something small to be thankful for like a warm blanket or a cup of coffee can help you in moments where you feel overwhelmed.
As we gather with family members we love, but who also may trigger us, it’s great to have resources to keep our relationships bigger than the problem at hand.
Family holiday events can be a hot bed for political debates or pouring salt on old wounds. Emotions can intensify and before you are even aware, Christmas sucks!
Here’s a quick list of how to preserve relationships over the holidays.
1. Stay in gratitude.
Emotionally mature people find ways to amplify joy even in a difficult situation. (They must also attune to the situation and not deny the hard things.)
2. Remember the first one to end a fight,wins.
3. Say “no” to something.
As a discipline. To prove that you can! Pleasing everyone may rob you of your joy and sanity.
4. Stop and take breaks.
Hide in the bathroom for a few minutes if you must, but remember to take a deep breath and talk to Jesus about it. He hears you. He sees you. He understands you. And He can do something about whatever you’re dealing with.
It’s easy on Thanksgiving to be thankful, but my prayer for you is that you will carry this discipline through the New Year.
Remember that God came near. He experienced all the junk of this world so that he could die in our place and we could be in relationshipwith Him. What a gift! Let’s be mindful and stay relational with each other and with Jesus.
For in His presence is fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11
Lisa is currently "SAHM-ing." In the past she has been a pastoral counselor, a singer, a music director, and an accountant! She lives in a multi generational home in the Pacific Northwest with her two boys, her amazing husband, and her mother. She is a coffee snob and a health nut who loves to dance like no one is watching.Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!