How can I avoid and overcome the post-Christmas blues?
Christmas is a very stressful time. All the things we do leading up to, during, and following Christmas stress us. Even the good things—shopping, cooking, gifts, family gatherings, spending, eating, and extra church, work, and school events—stress us emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And as with most times of high stress there follows a slump we refer to as the blues.
We can minimize and even avoid the post-Christmas blues by keeping Christmas simple and saying “no” more often. By cutting back on our activity the stress and subsequent slump is reduced.
Feeling blue is not uncommon. Even such Bible greats as Moses, Jonah, Paul, and Elijah faced times of discouragement and despair. From their experiences we can learn some things about overcoming the blues.
Elijah’s story in 1 Kings is particularly helpful. He experienced a huge spiritual victory and the emotional high that went with it when he defeated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). After the victory he outran Ahab and his chariot the 51 kilometres to Jezreel. When Jezebel threatened to kill him—another stressful situation—Elijah ran to Beersheba in the south, another 180 kilometres. Leaving his servant behind he walked another day’s journey into the wilderness to hide. All of this stress left Elijah exhausted spiritually, emotionally, and physically. While Elijah hid the Lord found him and helped him recharge (1 Kings 19).
What can we learn and do based on Elijah’s experience?
Take time to reflect
Identify and acknowledge those spiritual, emotional, and physical stresses, which may have contributed to the blues. Ask the Lord to help take appropriate steps to deal with them. Like Elijah we too need the Lord’s help beating the blues.
Take time to recharge
Do you know what recharges your spiritual, emotional, and physical batteries?
To recharge, Elijah was directed to do several things that impacted him emotionally, spiritually, and physically. He rested, ate, was given a new ministry partner, and set out on a new ministry (1 Kings 19:19–21).
Spiritually recharging means spending time in God's Word, in worship, and in prayer. Reading Scripture, listening to worship music, and talking to the Lord about how we feel recharges and refuels our souls drained by the stresses of Christmas.
Laughter can be a good way to recharge emotionally. Laughing through a funny movie or book does wonders for raising spirits. Spending time with people who build up and resource us rather than drain us is important. Doing something creative to move our mind in a different direction also rejuvenates.
For physical recharging we need to eat healthy, restore sleep patterns, and engage in exercise. Staying fit helps reduce stress and boost moods.
Take time to refocus
The Lord refocused Elijah’s attention on Himself in a new way since his gaze had turned inward and toward self-pity (1 Kings 19:9–14). God revealed Himself in a gentle whisper instead of a wind, earthquake, or fire.
The Lord also gave Elijah a new purpose: he was to go anoint Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha (1 Kings 19:15–18). He also gave him Elisha to train and keep him company.
After the stresses of Christmas, we also need to refocus on the Lord. We need to let go of the events now past and seek to know the Lord in a new way.
We also need to focus on the new year with its challenges and opportunities. Are there events beginning in the new year? Is there a ministry to engage in? Focus on that. We should expect to enjoy, not dread, the year ahead.
Planning for interesting and fulfilling events throughout the year is a good way to calm our blues. Thinking ahead to the sorts of things we'd like to do and be part of as the year moves on helps shifts our focus. Then doing something about it is a good next step to overcoming the Christmas blues.