It's that time of the year! The HOLIDAYS!! Do you look forward to this time, starting January 1st? Or does this feel like a time of being over-committed with expectations for unabashed happiness?
For many, this is a time of great joy, a time to celebrate, be thankful and share memories with loved ones. It's also that time of year when time seems to run short - everyday. The ever-present holiday music, holiday events, parties, family gatherings, exuberant sales clerks, bright lights and giddily happy people can get to everyone, even those who love the holidays as much as I do.
As I get ready for the next several weeks, I remember to take stock of what's important, and to get rest to keep my sanity. Sometimes that means planning ahead, sometimes that means taking in the moment, and sometimes that means just finding a moment of quiet. Here are some of the holiday de-stressors I practice. I wish you all that you need out of this holiday season, and hopefully with a little less stress!
Watch your schedule
Admittedly, I live and die by my calendar. This time of year, especially, I keep a watchful eye on my social commitments. While I'd love to say 'yes' to all the fun activities going on this time of year, it can easily become overwhelming. Taking a quick stock of your options for events and deciding events are the most important to you, helps you find boundaries for your time, and allows you to be fully present (and awake) for the events you do attend.
Plan ahead Waiting until the last minute puts me in immediate STRESS OUT mode. Making a list of everyone you want to include for gifts, setting a budget, and identifying gift ideas in advance (okay, so October might have been a good time to do this....nevertheless, today is better than tomorrow) will keep you focused and on-track for making purchases or donations, and getting your holiday gift-giving under control.
No matter where you find yourself in the next few weeks, EVERYONE is feeling the pressures of the holidays. Service workers are inundated with shoppers, diners, holiday travelers, and this group doesn't often get to enjoy the holidays. Parents are balancing kids' schedules, school performances, decorating and meal planning. For those who are without family or close friends nearby, this is a difficult time of year, and it can feel very lonely, and not at all any fun. I make a point of being the kind customer in line, giving way to those who are in a bigger rush than myself, and being sure to say hello and empathize with clerks and servers. Everyone could use a big smile (which you can totally deliver with big, kind eyes, even if masked up), and holding space in our hearts for everyone, with their own versions of stress during the holidays, creates more peace.
Take a break
When it all feels too much, listen to your body. Listen to your heart. Stop, take a moment to breathe, and just 'BE.' We are human 'be'ings, not human 'do'ings, and pausing for a moment to be present and take stock of what you might need, gives you a break from everything you feel you need to do. See my blog, earlier, about a 1 Minute Mind Detox. We can all benefit from 1 minute, or preferably 30 minutes, 60 minutes - whatever you need - to create quiet and space for ourselves. Sometimes what you need is to say 'no.' Or take a nap. Naps are so awesome and under-utilized!
In this time of overwhelm and bustle, I find the best way to get back to feeling myself and feeling de-stressed, is to take stock of all the GOOD things I have in my life. It's easy to get wrapped up in what everyone else needs or wants, and the materiality of the holidays. I find deep gratitude for the family and friends in my life, for delicious and nourishing meals, for my health and wellness, and for this time to reflect on all I've learned and embraced throughout the year.
No matter how you experience the holidays, there is magic in the air right now, and with a little curiosity, I'm certain we will all find the moments we need to be joyful.