How To Keep Emotionally Healthy This Holiday

{image: Ivan Dzyuba / 123RF Stock Photo}

{image: Ivan Dzyuba / 123RF Stock Photo}

There’s nothing more disorienting than entering a old familiar situation armed with new perspectives or habits. Like that first visit home after we moved out for college or a job. Or the first meal with friends after we started a new diet. Times when something significant in us has changed and we either feel like a foreigner with familiar people or we wonder how our new normal will effect our lives.

For many of us, the holidays can be one of these moments.

Holiday time with family can feel like the razor’s edge between two alternate realities—and we wonder if the person we’ve become will survive connection with who we’ve been. 

This year, I come from an autumn where the leaves fell from my marriage. A fall filled with medical challenges. And also from a place where my understanding of God plumbed new depths—a season that’s birthed a new book, healed parts of my heart I didn’t know were broken, and pruned unhelpful patterns in my marriage so it could have a shot at really thriving.

I’m a different person this year, going into the holidays. 

You probably are, too. 

Things have happened in your life this year. Ups, downs, choices, repercussions, crises, miracles, closed doors and surprisingly open windows. You’re not who you were last year when you got together with family. And maybe that feels a little unnerving.

It’s normal to feel awkward as we grow.

When we change, grow, make the healthier choice, try a new skill or step out in faith where we’ve been afraid, it’s normal to feel awkward. Whenever we use a new relational, emotional or spiritual muscle we discover what we didn’t know or couldn’t do before. It can feel like we’re walking around with our own feet on backwards! But that doesn’t mean we are. It just means we’re walking the unfamiliar. And just because it’s not familiar doesn’t mean it’s not GOOD.

It’s not as awkward as it seems.

What if those new, awkward conversations we might have over holiday meals are just the process we need to go through right now? What if the healthier boundary we need to set is simply the next step in strengthening a new emotional, spiritual, financial or relational muscle? What if the awkwardness doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong, but that we’re doing it better? Just letting ourselves consider alternatives to the worry can help in our most awkward old-meets-new interactions.

Truth to help you be your best self (this holiday and beyond).

All Scripture is inspired and helpful (see 2 Timothy 3:16), and here are two that can really encourage us when we’re finding our bearings in too-familiar situations:

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

“My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (God speaking, in Isaiah 55:11).

When we sow health, growth and positive change, that’s what we’ll reap. So we can confidently walk in the new, healthier thoughts and actions. Our job isn’t to farm the land, just to sow good where we are. From there, we hang on to the promises that drove us to grow and heal. They won’t leave us high and dry. Even if we fear they will!

What are you looking forward to this holiday? What’s a little scary? What do you need most in order to be your best through it all?


P.S. If this was helpful, may I recommend another resource to support you? My book, Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful, gives practical tools to help you see the wonder in your own quirks so you can be your best self. . . and helps you do the same with others too!

Having coffee with my friend Holley today, who’s also sharing thoughts on a holiday with healthy emotions.

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  1. says

    Geez. You couldn’t have better explained what I’m feeling going into this holiday season. Only now, I am looking at entirely different. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is true. All of it.
    I’ve changed, grown, experienced a lot. It has been painful but I do believe it is productive, too. Apparently I just needed someone to remind me of that part.

    I would imagine all the others who will gather together at our Thanksgiving table have experienced their share of change, too. I’ve been very nervous about company that is coming next week. Usually I’m excited. We haven’t seen each other in over two years. I’m so looking forward to seeing my twin niece and nephew but wasn’t ready to answer all of the questions.
    But maybe, I can DO THIS even as awkward as I feel. I don’t really like feeling uncomfortable with my own family members but it is what it is and now that you pointed out the positive side—I’m feeling slightly relieved.
    It is our place to sow good seed and allow God to water, fertilize and reap the harvest. I just had a conversation with someone about that today while going through a routine medical test. This is confirmation.
    I love when God confirms things. And, I love you!

  2. Jennifer Hallmark says

    Another good thought. I know it can show on you physically. I’ve had times of having a great breakthrough during the week, and people then come up to me at church on Sunday, asking if I had changed my hair or something 🙂