Avoid Advent anxiety: 5 tips
By Julie Filby
1. Decide what you’re going to say “no” to. The Advent and Christmas seasons get filled up with a lot of stuff. To stay spiritually grounded during these weeks requires planning ahead. Sit down with your spouse (or whole family) and identify commitments that you must fulfill and the ones you really want to commit to. Consciously decide to make those truly meaningful. This will give you a measure of interior peace right from the start.
2. Change your meditation material. Think about changing the source(s) you are using for meditation. If you’ve been meditating on the daily liturgy, think about switching to a devotional book. If you’ve been using a favorite devotional, switch to the liturgy, or another devotional. The liturgical seasons are given to us precisely because we need to change things up.
3. Plug into your parish. Every parish has Advent and Christmas liturgies (like daily Mass and the penitential services), and they also have seasonal activities (like service projects). Engaging in them will help you keep Christ in the center. A list of parish penance services (click here for a list).
4. Do an Advent retreat. This could be a weekend retreat, one organized by a diocese or retreat center, or just a simple personal retreat that you do during a full- or half-day in a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle. A worthy spiritual reading project would be to download Midnight Mass homilies of Pope Benedict (he has given five now) and Pope John Paul II (he gave 26!). Visit www.vatican.va.
5. Choose entertainment strategically. We all benefit from the inspiration and relaxation that entertainment affords us. But too often we aren’t strategic about this; we just do whatever everyone else does. Take time to reflect on what entertainment activities you will enjoy during Advent and Christmas. Maybe you will want to fast from a particular activity during Advent. Maybe you will want to schedule some sledding or simply watch your favorite Christmas movies.
Adapted from “How should I prepare for Advent?” by Father John Bartunek of Catholic Spiritual Direction (http://rcspiritualdirection.com) with permission.