Finding Holiday Joy

5 Tips to Find New Strength During This Season

There are times in our lives when all the wind has fallen out of our sail due to personal challenges like discouragement in our jobs, death in the family, mistakes that we have made and couldn’t control.  It’s time to refocus on the gifts that have been provided for you.

1- Work to find solutions in small increments.  Feelings won’t change instantly, it takes time.  Be kind and patient with yourself. A powerful line from author Denise Shumway, “We don’t need to see the path of our entire journey, only where to put our foot next.(Power Prayers for Teachers, p9)

2- Find comfort in things that help calm the emotions.  I find that in reading books where someone has identified the right Bible verse and reflected on the important message.  I have a couple of journals I write my feelings in.  It’s a safe place where no one can take my thoughts and use them in ways I didn’t imagine.

3- Be open to the gifts you are given, even the smallest ones.  I am always surprised the doors that are opened when I pray.  Maybe it’s my heart and my eyes that are pointed in a new direction? For example, one morning I was struggling.  For the first time in my life, I’ve been have episodes of panic attacks.  Physical symptoms that are knocking the wind out of me.  I’ve never had this before…ever.  Yes, I’ve worried before, but nothing like this. Anyway, I opened one of my books and read, “Many times it’s a small gesture…but it can be such a life-changing act when done in Your name.” (Shumway, p53)  I made a plan that day to send out a couple of handwritten cards, thanking people for…something. I know how powerful one card can be at times.

So, off I went to work.  When I got to my classroom, I opened my door and there was a card, slipped under the door, for me.  It was from a colleague, just checking in.  I cried when I read it.

In addition, the kids came in shortly after.  This was in the first few weeks of school, so the students don’t really know me yet. One girl came right over to me and explained how she loved to draw and make things.   Then, she handed me the most lovely poster with a cheerful note.  I did all I could to hold back the tears.  She had no idea what that meant to me that day.

Both of those small gestures were like hugs for me from God. I made sure I sent out my two notes I had planned on writing that morning. Words are powerful.  You never know how they can change someone’s day.

4- Tap into those creative energies you have.  Getting your brain into the zone can melt away stress. I went to a graduate project presentation, where the music and art therapy students shared their findings for their thesis projects.  Almost every one found in their data that using music and/or using art decreases a certain amount of stress.

5- Be grateful and notice the gifts given to you, no matter how small.  According to the American Psychological Association, “…found that teens with the most gratitude…had:

  • gained 15 percent more of a sense of meaning in their life;
  • become 15 percent more satisfied with their life overall (at home, at school, with their neighborhood, with their friends and with themselves);
  • become 17 percent more happy and more hopeful about their lives;
  • experienced a 13 percent drop in negative emotions and a 15 percent drop in depressive symptoms.”You can read more about the study here.

I’ll be starting my Gifts of Happiness project soon.  Remember, those small notes that made a difference? I have the students symbols that represent “You’re doing a great job”, I make copies, they write a note and deliver them to a person they choose.  It gets them thinking about what they are grateful for and saying thank you to others.  They have to communicate in two forms, verbal and written, to an audience of one.  We reflect together and they are so surprised at how they feel afterwards. Lessons take about a week or so, and then the kids always ask to continue it on their own. I just keep making copies. It makes them happy.

So, how do you find Holiday Joy? Follow some of these ideas, and then surround yourself with others who put the wind back in your sail!

 

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