The days before Christmas are quickly slipping away. If you’re feeling a crushing sense of overwhelm at everything left to do before now and then, take a deep breath. Grab something warm to drink, and cozy up for some words of encouragement and practical tips before you launch into frenzied action.

We could never outdo Zechariah’s Canticle when he proclaims in the first chapter of Luke, “…through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

It is right to long for peace, to want to shut out the noise around you, and just sit with your family and revel in awe of the fact that God is with us, that a Savior is born, that “a weary world rejoices.”

You want to stay focused on what matters most. But with a hundred things on the to-do list, it’s can be difficult to transpose the message of “peace on earth” to “peace within.” Here are some practical tips you can utilize today to step out of your frenzied hurry and into the stillness of peace.​

Practical Tips to Cultivate Peace This Week

  • Declutter your brain. You cannot expect to have the space to relax if your brain has a hundred tabs open and trying to load all at once. Get every single task and detail that’s weighing on your mind down on paper. And then sort them according to their priority. What absolutely has to happen? What is important, but not essential? What is fun, but not important? Having absolute clarity on the things that are most essential, will automatically bring a sense of peace to your to-do list. If you’re feeling really overwhelmed and have some time to commit to really sorting through the overwhelm, it could be a great week to download our Taming Your To-Do List Guide (use the code TAMETHATLIST to get this resource for free). One evening of coming to grips with your list may be just the ticket to a peaceful week leading up to Christmas.
  • Envision what you really want this Christmas. Be specific. It helps to journal this out in the flex space of your planner, incorporating and highlighting core value words in your description. Here are some ideas: reverent, calm, cozy, mindful, delightful, deep, warm, centered, focused, together, anticipation, hope.
  • Be willing to cut the nonessential. If your vision is a festive and delicious Christmas dinner—stressing yourself out to add variety to your cookie selection will minimally add to the warmth of togetherness. In fact, it could actually be counterproductive as you will struggle to have the presence of mind to relax and infuse peace into your family’s dinner with your own still spirit. The idea that the host has to be stressed out of her mind every Christmas as she slaves to make everything flawless is a LIE. Your family needs your joy more than they need a Pinterest-perfect dinner. Ruthlessly edit your to-do list so that you can show up for what’s truly essential this week.
  • Take moments to be still. When you feel your stress levels rising, don’t just push through. Take a deep breath and remember Who this season is all about! Jesus welcomed Mary to sit at His feet, even while Martha was running around like a chicken with her head cut off. It’s so tempting to say, “I’ll find my center in Christ after _____.” That doesn’t have to be your story this Christmas season. Christ came for you to lay down your burdens, too. He’s not worried if you forgot to order your Advent calendar in time, or if your kids have their matching pajamas clean on Christmas morning. So every time you feel your Martha coming on, choose a Mary moment. Take a long drink of water, settle the kids, and then take a moment by yourself to just Abide. Don’t get on Instagram, but instead set a timer for 5 minutes. Put on a playlist that ministers to you. Breathe deeply, keep your eyes closed, and lean into a conversation with God until the timer goes off. It doesn’t take much to recenter on what matters—but it does take intention.

Christmas is eleven days away. That’s eleven days to cultivate peace in your home. Eleven days to knock out the essential things and let the rest fall away. Eleven days to prepare to celebrate the greatest moment the world has ever known.