5 Ways to Mindfully Navigate the Holiday Season
The holidays are hectic!! We place a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to bake, cook, clean, wrap, celebrate, shop, prepare, volunteer, donate, send cards, give gifts, work, and make lasting memories for our loved ones... and, don't forget to take pictures! Is your head spinning yet? As exciting and fun as this time of year can be, it can simultaneously create unwanted stress and anxiety. Our attention is consistently being pulled in different directions and it's important for us to stay focused on what matters most.
Find joy and balance during this season by taking a mindful approach to all you do. Make an intentional decision to pause, breathe, and remind yourself that you are enough just as you are. Let go of the expectations you feel or perhaps you feel others have placed on you. Welcome each moment and each celebration with curiosity and an open mind.
1. Know your limits. There is no shame in admitting you have reached your threshold. This time of year can bring about great joy and it can also foster tremendous fatigue, stress, and worry. Listen to your body and notice your self-talk. If you feel tired, take the time to go to bed a little earlier. Hearing lots of self-criticism in your thoughts? Speak to yourself as though you are your own best friend. It's okay to leave the party early or purchase instead of bake the cookies. Respecting when you've reached your limit and taking steps to re-energize, can make all the difference in your enjoyment of the season.
2. "No," is a complete sentence. This is SO much easier said than done! Between the workplace gift exchange, potluck holiday parties, family traditions, charitable donations... we can quickly feel spread way too thin. We are often left feeling like we need to answer any and all requests for help. Consider all the expectations you typically put on yourself this season (including the expectations you feel from others) and decide which ones are most important to you. Saying 'No' to at least one thing can lift a great amount of stress off your shoulders during a hectic few weeks of spreading yourself in every direction.
3. Take Time for You. Your bucket needs filling too. We expend loads of energy thinking about others and working to make the holidays perfect. Remember that you are worthy of that same energy and attention. Snuggle under a warm blanket, savor that cup of morning brew, make a lunch date with your friends, binge your favorite show - whatever it takes to give you a re-set. Whether you take a full day, or just a few minutes, setting aside the time to take care of yourself will have tremendous benefits in getting you through the more challenging moments of the season.
4. Attitude of Gratitude. We often feel like gratitude should elicit a powerful and joyous emotion, but, in reality it doesn't always show up for us in such a profound way. Sometimes, it feels forced or contrived and we have difficulty feeling grateful. When we view gratitude as a mindset and view the world around us with appreciation - recognizing the efforts of others, the beauty of a sunset, the softness of our favorite sweater - we can better connect with a sense of gratitude. Create a habit of focusing on the things you have accomplished, went well or provided you with a moment of appreciation. At the end of each day, make a list or journal about all the positive and helpful things that happened. What you focus on, you get more of; and over time, you will train your patterns of thought to focus on the things in your life that bring you joy - both big and small.
5. Giving isn't always about the gifts. The pressure is on to find that perfect gift for the hard-to-please person on our list! Even finding gifts for the easiest of our loved ones can feel like a chore and create frustration or stress. Remember this season of giving isn't just about the present that we purchase, but, the presence that we bring to our interactions and relationships. Consider writing a thoughtful letter, connecting over a cup of tea, enjoying a trip together to see a movie, or rolling up your sleeves to help someone accomplish a project. Your time, energy and presence is a true gift when given with purpose and intention.