How to avoid going crazy at Christmas

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Life is busy. During the Christmas season, life tends to be WAY too busy. Add to that the reality of what I call Christmas craziness, and some of us might be headed for a nervous breakdown! 

More than usual, at Christmas we tend to fill our lives with events, activities and duties that clutter up our hearts and minds.

When my four kids were little, it was not unusual for us to have three or four different school Christmas programs to attend (sometimes in one night). Then there was the church Christmas social, the neighborhood Christmas party, the work party, and of course, all the extra family events. We were pulled in so many directions at the same time that we felt like a rubber band about to snap.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, and Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. But come January, I used to frequently find myself struggling with an exceptionally strong desire to become a hermit. I would imagine myself living alone in a wilderness shack somewhere in the mountains of Canada.

About 10 years ago, however, I started to put into practice some things that have brought a measure of sanity to this season and reduced the Christmas clutter in my life. Here are some simple, yet powerfully effective, ways to stop the madness:

1. Practice the power of “no.” 

Here’s a radical concept: You really don’t have to do everything! Yes, Aunt Gertie might not understand your choice to pass on her 68th Annual Christmas Cookie Bake-off, but it’s okay to say no to things that really aren’t that important or necessary.

There’s only so much time in a day, and you only have so much energy. When we choose to do too much or go too hard, the result is not only stress but also diminished effectiveness. When we end up giving so many bits and pieces of ourselves away, the unfortunate result is that we aren’t fully present anywhere.

2. Learn to stay focused and finish what is at hand.

Have you ever found yourself attempting to do something and half way through that task you started something else? Then, of course, part way through the second task you remember you need to do another job and you start it without finishing the first or the second thing you’re doing. We flutter here and there and everywhere, landing like a butterfly for only a moment on one tasty flower after another only to be drawn away in just moments.

Some of you might be gifted multitaskers, but most of us end up in a tizzy and terribly unproductive. Some of us are so easily distracted that we think being ADD is normal. It’s not.

It’s best to prioritize first, and then stay focused on what must be done right now. Finish what you’ve started. It’s amazing how good you will feel knowing that you truly are making progress and completing the task at hand.

3. When in doubt about what to do or not to do — always choose the relational thing first.

I know there are some relationships that drain us. I know that often we just want to curl up under a warm blanket and hide from everyone, but healthy relationships refuel our souls. Investing time with people who make us laugh and challenge us to grow is critical to our mental health.

There will come a moment during this holiday season where you will have to decide to either do something or be something. I want to suggest that being is better. Be a friend. Be a listener. Be encouraged. Be an encourager. Last time I checked, we are called human beings not human doings.

Some of my most refreshing moments have come when I set aside the stuff vying for my attention to devote myself to the only eternal parts of my life — people.

4. Take a power nap.

That’s right, take an intentional break no matter how crazy your life seems at any given moment. Even a 10-15 minute power nap can make all the difference in the world. Just close your eyes, put your feet up, and listen to your heartbeat, or you might not have a heartbeat to listen to for long!

If you’re too important and too busy to take a brief pause in your day, you probably think too highly of yourself. Trust me, you’ll be better and more refreshed if you find a Sabbath rest in the middle of your craziness.

Yup . . . life is busy, and Christmas is intense, but it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.

May you find sanity and rest today in the one who is called the Prince of Peace. May His invitation draw you to reason in the midst of the season: “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

About Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna published his first book, "Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot," with Tyndale in 2013. He has recently published "Mr. & Mrs.: How to Thrive in Perfectly Imperfect Marriage" and two other books. Bubna is an active blogger, itinerate speaker, regular radio and television personality, and the Senior Pastor of Eastpoint Church, a large non-denominational congregation in Spokane Valley, Wash. He and his wife, Laura, have been married for nearly 40 years and have four grown children and six grandchildren.

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  1. Thanks Kurt- “No” can be a difficult word to say sometimes! But a healthy one too.

  2. You are welcome, Bruce.

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