The holidays are upon us. This fact is very exciting to me, but to some, it means more stress, exhaustion, and huge expectations. I thought I would share some ways to experience this holiday season in a more enjoyable way.
These suggestions are merely that- suggestions. Things to try. Some may work for you and some may not. But, if you never try anything different, you will never get a different result.
Let’s start with mindfulness. In the coming month, practice being in the moment. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with all that needs to be done, pause and take a few deep, belly breaths. Notice how your body is feeling and how it feels to actually breathe. Notice the colors, scents, and sounds around you. Be where your body is. So frequently, our bodies are one place and our minds are millions of miles away. Let’s practice being in one place at one time. This will help the mind to calm and to recognize not only that right now is all we really have, but also, in this very moment, you are ok.
Next, let’s look at the expectations we put on ourselves to do more in the holiday season while resting less. The practice of heightened expectations and increased stress leads us to eating more sweets for an energy boost (and hey, the sweets are around this time of year), drinking more alcohol at night in an attempt to wind down, and caffeinating more than usual in the morning to get ourselves going. These habits then contribute to our feeling run down, heavy, moody, and susceptible to illness all while trying to act like everything is ‘merry and bright’.
Let’s also look at what we are giving this season. Financial stress can increase exponentially during the holidays. What if we moved away from giving only material things and shifted into giving more of our time, attention, and energy to ourselves and others? Maybe that looks like visiting or cooking a meal for a friend or family member this season. Maybe that looks like volunteering at a toy drive, soup kitchen, or shelter. Maybe that looks like playing with your kids for 30 minutes of full attention. Or maybe that looks like taking time to sit in a warm bath and breathe for a bit before going to bed because your body is telling you that it is tired.
Finally, let’s take a look at our priorities. What can we put off until after the holiday season and what must we really get done now? What will have the biggest ROI (Return on Investment) for our health and happiness? Five years from now, will your job remember that you worked late that one day and missed your child’s holiday play? Probably not, but you and your child will both remember that you weren’t there. In the future when family members are gone, will you wish that you had taken the time to be with them this season? Try to focus on what is most important and what you will feel best about later.
This season should be spent focusing on personal connection. This is a free and effective way to show others that you care about them. WHAT?! The massive barrage of holiday advertisements you are bombarded with this season is created in an effort to convince you that happiness can come from a package. However, we cannot expect to feel long-term fulfillment from things outside of us. The memories that will last are those related to feeling connected, loved, seen, and appreciated. And yes, that most likely means putting down the phones and tablets to give someone a hug and talk to them while looking them in the eyes.
Try it. You’ll like it. No expectations, no pressure. Just trying.
Talk again soon,