by Shane Fookes, MA LPC Intern
Holidays Don’t Have to Be Stressful
The holiday season has a way of amplifying our yearning for a meaningful life.
It certainly doesn’t help that we live in a media-saturated age offering image after image of happy people seemingly enjoying life to the fullest. Social media feeds tend to show only the best from the lives of friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and various celebrities. On top of that, savvy advertisers incessantly broadcast messages urging us to buy this or experience that and promising fulfillment when we do.
Sadly, we consciously and unconsciously follow the latest cultural trends only to find they bring us back to the same place. And when we arrive back at the same place, shame is there to greet us. The shame message is simple yet demoralizing: since you didn’t experience what the images all seemed to project, something must be wrong with you.
A few years ago I was in a particular season of high anxiety. Life seemed to be happening at too fast a pace and I felt overwhelmed, needing serenity. Thankfully, my therapist at the time gave me the simple yet unexpected gift of the Serenity Prayer. The prayer was originally conceived in the early twentieth century by a man named Reinhold Niebuhr. It was later popularized by the Alcoholics Anonymous movement. Here’s the common rendition:
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can,and wisdom to know the difference.
My therapist encouraged me to take a sheet of paper and make three columns. At the top of the first column, he had me write, “I need serenity to accept…” and then invited me to list as many things as possible in my life that were outside of my control.
At the top of the second column, he had me write, “I need courage to change…” and invited me to list everything in my life that I had the power or influence to change.
Lastly, in the third column, he had me write, “I need wisdom about…” and invited me to brainstorm goals for changing what I could change and then prioritize those goals.
All this was done in a spirit of dependence, trusting that God would provide for my needs. This simple exercise didn’t immediately take away my problems, nor magically free me from my anxiety. However, it shifted my mindset and freed my brain from the pressure of trying to control everything in my life (yes, I can be a control freak). It invited me into a place of admitting my limitations while also giving me a sense of focus and purpose. As I pursued my goals, I began to experience welcome changes in my life circumstances. This renewed my sense of personal empowerment and steadily decreased the anxiety I was experiencing.
What if you gave yourself the same gift this holiday season that my therapist gave me?
I invite you to set aside an hour, grab a sheet of paper, and go through the exercise. It may be helpful to narrow your focus from your life as a whole to the holiday season in particular. For example, maybe you’re feeling depressed because you live across the country from your family and you cannot afford to travel for the holidays. In the first column on your sheet of paper, you could write, “Living far away from my family and unable to travel to see them.” In the second column, you could write, “setting aside time to spend with important people both near and far.” And in the third column, you could put, “arrange a Zoom call with family members on Christmas Day,” “host a Christmas party for my friend group,” and/or “volunteer to serve a meal at the homeless mission.”
Consider Online Therapy in Oregon for Christian Counseling
Our Clackamas and Hillsboro-based counselors are excited to work with you, wherever you are in Oregon.
When you are ready to start online Christian counseling in Oregon, follow these simple steps:
- Learn about our therapy team in Hillsboro and our caring counselors in Clackamas
- Schedule an appointment with your preferred therapist, or contact us with questions
- Feel more connected to the important people in your life
Other Mental Health Services at Life Discovery Counseling in Oregon
If you are in Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, or Hillsboro, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinics. Christian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. Not only do we see adults, but children in counseling too. We also work with depression treatment, anxiety therapy, trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, relationship issues, marriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need via online therapy in Oregon. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!