Less Is More, Especially Through the Holidays

Have you ever wondered when life began to be different?

When did we change from happy little girls to frenzied women? Is there a mark on our timelines when we changed from carefree little girls into frazzled grown-up girls?

Somewhere along the way, we went from thriving to surviving, from being full of joy to full of stress. I believe this change starts to take place as we add commitments and responsibilities to our plates, never stopping to reevaluate or subtract as our plate begins to feel full. And as we rush to keep up with our overfull lives, we paradoxically begin to feel empty.

This empty feeling has a lot of names: overwhelmed, stressed, frazzled, frenzied, frantic. Many times, we allow our lives to continue at this pace because we are afraid to acknowledge the way we’re feeling. We feel guilty for feeling anything but happy or grateful. “Who am I to feel overwhelmed and empty when my basic needs are met — and then some?”

I know for sure that when I’m living life stretched this thin, I’m missing so much goodness along the way. Slow bedtime conversations with a toddler’s head on the pillow next to yours. The golden rays that filter through an oak tree just before sunset. The taste of crunchy buttered bread dipped into slow-cooked soup, made by the same loving hands who fed you your first bite.

Oh, what we miss when we rush through life.

This has been the single most revolutionary realization for me: we have a finite amount of focus and a finite amount of space in our brains. You and the woman who existed a hundred years ago — before television and computers and the internet and smartphones and baseball leagues — have the same mental capacity in your head. Her core focuses were different than yours are now, but she had a much smaller pile of things that required her daily thoughts and attention. You have hundreds, if not thousands, more.

That space in your head and heart is sacred. Protect it as holy, and allow in only what’s truly significant. This is where you must be brave. This is where it’s easy to get stuck. We can believe the lie that we must do things the way we always have. We can believe we are powerless in our circumstances and therefore powerless against a future as burned-out women.

Or we can believe that God made us for more.

We can make choices that allow us to be women who have inner calm and outward joy. You were not created to function at max capacity day after day.

You have not been forgotten. You are a daughter of the King, and you have the power to make choices about the way you live your life. You are precious and special and significant. You can opt for a life of less. You can say no to the world constantly telling you to be, do, and have more. You are capable of being full of goodness and joy whether you are four, forty, or ninety-four.

So much in the world is out of control. But even if just a little, we can manage what happens within the walls of our hearts and homes. This is holy work.

Emily’s Top 5 Tips for Less Overwhelm and More Joy at the Holidays

  1. Make a Plan. Decide now which parties, plays, and commitments work for your family’s schedule—and politely decline the rest.
  2. Recruit Some Elves. There’s a reason Santa has helpers! Whether you’re baking cookies or decking the halls, many hands make light work.
  3. Take Chaos Out of the Cleanup. Break out the storage bins and the labels! A little forethought now will make your holiday setup even easier next year.
  4. Say Thanks. Don’t forget to thank the people who spread a little magic in your life beyond the holidays like your mail carrier, your child’s teachers, your barista.
  5. Fill Your Tank. We do a lot for loved ones over the holidays. Take a few minutes for whatever relaxes you most. You deserve it!

Written by Emily Ley, author of When Less Becomes More.

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Your Turn

What’s taking up your brain space? What are you focusing on and attending to every day? Is it what matters most to you? You were made by God for more! Let’s enter the holiday season prepared to save that holy space with calm and joy! Come share your thoughts with us on leaving the frenzy behind this coming season. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

Emily Ley

Emily Ley is Founder and Creative Director of Emily Ley Paper & Gifts. She is also the creator of the bestselling Simplified Planner—a daily agenda for what matters most. Raised in Pensacola, Florida (home of the most beautiful beaches you ever did see), Emily graduated from the University of West Florida with degrees in English, creative writing, and public administration and then went on to become the executive director of the city ballet. From there, she worked in nonprofit management and public relations before launching her brand in 2008. Following the success found at its online home, EmilyLey.com, the Emily Ley brand quickly grew to be carried in over 500 retail outlets across the United States and around the world. Emily has been recognized with numerous awards, including Best New Product—Desktop (for the 2015 Simplified Planner®) at the National Stationery Show as well as Top 10 Designers to Watch in 2015 by Stationery Trends Magazine. Now as a businesswoman, wife, and mama to three, Emily enjoys Friday pizza parties on the living room floor, strong cappuccinos with her college-crush-turned-husband, and making memories to savor for a lifetime with her twins and preschooler.

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