Trading Anxiety for Peace, Part 4

Feeling holiday anxiety? Find peace in this four-part series.

Welcome to part 4 of my holiday blog series, Trading Anxiety for Peace. Today we’ll discuss how intentional planning can pave the way toward Christmas peace.

Dealing with Anxious Thoughts

Do you feel anxious at Christmas like I usually do? The Christmas season is a time for hope, joy, and peace, but anxiety finds its way inside every year. But I’m determined not to let anxiety control me this December.

Christmas peace is closer to me when I stick to plans. My December anxiety level raises up higher when I don’t stick to a plan, and I’ve learned through trial and error what plans work best. Here are several examples of what works for me:

  • If I stick to my plan to meet Jesus every morning in December, my whole day goes more smoothly. That one-on-one time with him is an antidote for my anxious thoughts.
  • If I stick to my plan to set a timer throughout my day, I feel energized and happy, and my anxious thoughts about my health are squashed.
  • If I stick to my plan to meditate on God’s word for greater peace, my thoughts stay on a positive track rather than an anxious track. Like the Lionel train my children love to play with at Christmas, my thoughts must move along a peaceful, God-pleasing track to keep moving forward.
  • If I stick to my plan to manage my sugar intake, my worries about gaining weight are kept to a minimum. I can enjoy a delicious Christmas cookie now and then without beating myself up.

For nine years, I worked as an event planner of an annual home and garden show. If one thing was consistent in each year of the event, it was this: you can plan, plan, and plan some more, but something will always go differently than you expected. I learned to expect the unexpected as an event planner.

Trusting God This Christmas

There’s no way I can control everything that will happen this holiday season. I have learned over the years to let go of my control tendencies and trust God with the master plan.

At the same time, sticking to the basic plan grants a measure of predictability, which keeps my anxiety in check. For example, I have zero control over family drama this Christmas. But by maintaining my rhythms of Bible study, exercise, eating right, and resting, I will be better prepared to handle the unknowns with a peaceful mindset. By grounding myself in God’s goodness, I can face the holiday uncertainties with greater peace.

A New Plan

Do you enjoy Christmas devotionals? They help me focus on the heart of Christmas during busy December.

The Christmas devotionals I'm using this year.

I’m reading Devotions for Christmas and Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift  every day in December. I’m also reading my own Christmas Peace for Busy Moms, because no one needs that message more than me! These three books, along with my normal Bible reading, will breathe peace into my heart each day. They will help me pause and ponder this beautiful season with awe and wonder.

These devotionals will guide my time alone with the Prince of Peace. Time alone with Jesus is the only way I’ll stay connected to peace, no matter what happens this Christmas.

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. James 4:8 ESV

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Day 23 Peaceful Celebration:

All our December planning and preparation in our hearts and homes point toward Christmas Day. The joy of this day is based on the arrival of our Savior, who makes peace with God possible.

I want to keep the end in mind as I go about my tasks in December. The whole point of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ coming, and to praise him for drawing near. I don’t want to miss that important message in all my busy rushing, and planning well can help me stay focused. Will you also find ways to focus on Jesus this Christmas?

You can fight holiday anxiety by trusting God.

What’s Next

Thank you for joining me on this journey of Trading Anxiety for Peace. I hope this series has blessed you.

For the next three weeks of the Advent season, I’ll be sharing Advent prayers here on the blog. They will be short, easy reads to lift you up in your busy days. I’ll also have batches of book reviews for you on Tuesdays, in case you need some last-minute Christmas gift ideas.

Also, I’m SO excited that I will be featured on the (in)courage blog on December 23 with a special Christmas-themed post. I hope you’ll take a minute or two to read it on that day, and let me know what you think!

Questions for you:
      • Which Christmas devotional is your favorite?
      • In what way do you need to trust God with the master plan this Christmas?
      • What daily rhythms bring you greater peace in busy December?
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  • What a great way to get through this stressful time Sarah!!! Thanks so much for sharing.
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    #TuneinThursday

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Jodie! Happy December to you!

  • I LOVE this series, Sarah. It is a help and I sure appreciate reading it. xoxo

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thank you Meghan! Blessings to you!

  • Thanks for the needed reminder to focus on the plans and the One we know will keep us healthy and strong in the midst of all the fa-la-la-la-la, Sarah. I’ve found that the less on my plate, the greater the peace. The older I get, the free-er I feel to say ‘no, thanks.’

    ;-}

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Linda! I feel the same as the years keep passing. Happy December to you!

  • Funny how the world can so easily turn the birth of Peace Himself into a less-than-peaceful season. Great tips you’ve shared, friend. Thank you. — Looking forward to the advent prayers and your (in)courage post! xoxo

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thank you Brenda! I appreciate your faithful hosting of the Chasing Community linkup!

  • Thanks for sharing what works for you. Those sound like a good plan. Keeping a steady intake of God’s promises makes all the difference!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Kelly. Thank you so much for shopping by. Yes, God’s promises keep me on track more than anything else. Blessings to you!

  • Thank you for this series, Sarah. Lots of wisdom to help us find peace during the holidays! I can’t wait to read your featured post at (in)courage!!! Blessings, Sarah!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Leslie! I know you’ve been featured at (in)courage too, and I can’t wait to see what happens on that “stage.” Blessings to you, friend!

  • I tend to do better when my plans go as expected. But you’re right that they never do. ha. Expecting the unexpected is great advice!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thanks Lisa! It’s already helping me get through this season without spazzing out!

  • I like having a plan too, Sarah. And it does the same for me–calm my anxieties, though it can also increase them when my plan goes awry! ha! But yes, yes, yes! Anchoring myself in the Lord each day brings such enduring peace, no matter what is going on in my life. Thanks for these important reminders, my friend! I’m sharing!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Beth! Thanks for sharing…I saw your tweet today! Blessings to you in your busy season!

  • I’m a list person with a rough plan for the day. That seems to work for me most of the time, but I do sometimes set a timer when I start a task because I have been known to dawdle! LOL

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Donna! I need to set my timer today for all my tasks. Dawdling is a common problem for me too, and a timer is a simple solution!

  • So true. If I have a plan for part of the day, when the day falls apart by unplanned plans or events, it is easier to manage.

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hello Theresa! Thanks for stopping by. Blessings to you!

  • Jamie Sumner

    “There’s no way I can control everything that will happen this holiday season. I have learned over the years to let go of my control tendencies and trust God with the master plan.”

    This is what I’m trying to practice each holiday season as the kids get older. You just CAN’T control it…and even if you could, it would suck the joy out of it.

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Jamie! Yes, my children are getting older, and I totally hear you on this! Trying to learn to go with the flow and trust God more has helped me gain some extra peace.

  • Sarah, I so very much needed this reminder today! It’s easy to grow weary in the waiting, and this was like a vitamin to my soul just when I needed it. We can always expect and anticipate God will show!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hello dear Crystal! Thank you so much. Blessings to you today!

  • Rachel Lee

    This has been a lovely series, Sarah. You already know how much I enjoy your writing. 😉
    I look forward to your feature at (in)courage.
    Blessed to be your neighbor at Grit Up this week!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thank you Rachel! Praying God’s peace for you today.

  • I loved this series and look forward to your advent prayers. Can’t wait to read your post on (in)courage.

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thank you Debbie! Blessings to you in busy December.

  • Bettie G

    Thank you for this series, Sarah. I loved this thought: “By grounding myself in God’s goodness, I can face the holiday uncertainties with greater peace.”
    This is so true, and expresses such a good foundation for our daily lives! Blessings to you!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Bettie, thank you for reading my series. Christmas blessings to you also!

  • Meg Gemelli

    I love the Greatest Gift so, so much. I could read it every single year and have for the past two 🙂 Great advice this month Sarah. Sharing now!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Me too, Meg! I plan to enjoy it at lunchtime today. Thanks for your shares!

  • Thank you, Sarah! I start getting anxious just thinking about the holidays sometimes so your series is perfect for me! I’m so glad you shared this post with us at Encouraging Word Wednesday this week.

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thanks Charlie! I love your linkup–glad you faithfully host it!

  • Sarah, you knew I needed this, right? This one line alone — “time alone with the Prince of Peace will soothe my Christmas anxieties” — has inspired peace within my soul.
    Thank you, dear friend!
    Marva | SunSparkleShine

    • Sarah Geringer

      So glad you found inspiration here today, Marva! Blessings to you!

  • Oh and by the way, I can’t wait to read your piece on (in)courage. How exciting!

    • Sarah Geringer

      I’m excited too, and praying for all who will read it that day to have an extra measure of God’s peace.

  • Christy Mobley

    Sarah, planning is a necessity for me but I also have to plan for the unexpected that always happens to mess up my plans! Good information for the Christmas crazy!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thank you Christy! We both probably need the chill pill you described sometime between now and January 1.

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Sarah, what fabulous tips. I loved each one. And I’ll be honest, I had to have two quiet times this morning, because after the first one, my oldest and I got into a bit of a battle of wills, and all that early morning goodness seemed to dissipate. The other thing I’m trying to get better at is getting to bed earlier so I am not so tired. Tiredness never leads in a good direction.

    • Sarah Geringer

      Thank you, Jeanne! I am a nap-taker, and proud of it. Yesterday’s nap between 4:30 and 5:10 p.m. recharged my batteries so I could cook dinner and enjoy family time. Hope you found extra peace in your quiet times today!

  • Peace has been my word for the year. I’ve been better about remembering this word than words I’ve chosen in other years. We have a counselor that says to expect at least three curve balls a day. I don’t like it, but her point is well taken. I’ve reading Richard Rohr’s Preparing for Christmas this year and enoying the beautiful art and stories in The Beautiful Word for Christmas.

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Debby! I agree, your counselor’s point is good for preparing for Christmas. Thanks for sharing your book recommendations too!

  • Love this, Sarah. I’m a planner type of person, but sometimes I need to be more disciplined about following the plan I’ve created for myself! Thanks for sharing this. Looking forward to your (in)courage feature as well! ❤

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Laura! Thanks for reading today. I need to stick to my plans for the rest of the week too. Today I need to meet my deadlines for my paid articles, then back on track with my other priorities.

  • Anna Smit

    Sugar intake and meditating on God’s Word- so much what helps me too. I’m discovering that praying God’s Word calms me so much. I did that in the supermarket aisle the other day, as I felt tension rise: “Father, give me an undivided heart that I may fear YOUR Name above all else.” Just wow how quickly peace and calm flooded my body. Now if I could just remember to do that in every situation- pray first – especially in the evenings with my girls.

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Anna! Thank you for sharing your prayer here. I agree–prayer ANYWHERE can instantly bring calm and peace to me. Merry Christmas to you!

  • Stacey Pardoe

    Thanks for this, Sarah. I agree that keeping Christ at the center is the key to it all . . . I appreciated the fact that you pointed out your plan to maintain your regular sugar intake! These subtle temptations certainly hold the power to derail us if we succumb!

    • Sarah Geringer

      Hi Stacey! Thanks for visiting today. Merry Christmas to you!