Holidays are advertised as joyful times, but they can be tremendously stressful when you’re the one tasked with creating joy for others! Take care of yourself to take care of others.
One: Give Yourself Permission to Take Care of Yourself
- Say “No” when you need to.
- Set boundaries
- Find time for yourself
- A moment of self-reflection
- Treat yourself to a massage
- Go for a walk
- BREATHE – Use a 3 minute breathing meditation to center.
- Take a few minutes and simply take a few deep breaths (when we are stressed we tend to breathe shallowly.
- When you get ramped up about traffic, lines, scurrying around – breathe through it!
- If you like phone apps, find a meditation app and load it so you can take a break while on the go, when you need it most.
- Ask yourself:
- What do I want most from this holiday season?
- What is most important to me?
- What traditions are most important to me?
- Who do I really want to spend time with?
Two: Involve all of Your Senses
Be present wherever you are:
- Sitting in traffic – put some calming or upbeat music (whatever that is for you: Christmas music, Jazz, Classical, Rock) Focus on the music, let your body move to the beat, feel the beat, let the music wash over your being. (Be Happy with Pharrell!)
- Home with family – enjoy and fully experience walking into a home with all the scents of cooking and yummy holiday treats. Slow yourself down, deeply smell the different scents and enjoy each one.
- Work – the workplace environment can be quite busy this time of year. Find ways to breathe and slow down and invite your co-workers to do the same. When things get hectic, take a moment for a “calming circle” by yourself or with your co-workers. Breathe and slow down. It is amazing how much this can help in moments of high stress.
- Shopping – this can be a stressful environment with everyone running around, standing on line and trying to get everything done! If you are in a shopping mall or large store, find a bench and just sit for a few minutes. People-watch; smile at someone passing by. Slow yourself down a bit and enjoy what is going on around you.
- Driving home at night – take the time to notice the holiday lights and decorations all around you. Enjoy the twinkling lights and appreciate the effort in creating some of these amazing “light shows” that are all around us.
- Watch a Holiday movie – take the time to watch one of the classic holiday movies: “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Home Alone”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Frosty the Snowman”. Wrap yourself in a warm, fuzzy blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and simply be.
Three: Don’t get caught in the hustle and bustle of the holiday
When you plan to be out in crowds:
- Take time to calm yourself before you go out: sit for just a few minutes, close your eyes and breathe.
- By changing our perspective of a situation, we can approach it with calmness.
- Create a sense of peace and joy, true holiday feelings, inside your mind and spirit.
Four: Do Things in Moderation – This time of year it is really easy to overindulge
- Get your sleep – experts suggest 7-8 hours every night
- Overspending is easy – but the results will stess you out! Create a list and a budget and stick to it. You’ll be glad you did.
- Eat Healthy – lots of goodies and not so healthy foods are all around. Prepare healthy meals at home as often as possible throughout the holiday season and carry healthy snacks! (apples, fresh veggies, protein bars, etc.) Click here for healthy eating tips for the holidays!
Five: Let Go of Holiday Expectations
- William Shakespeare: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
- We can fall into the trap of having expectations for family members, gatherings, gifts, etc.
- We dream of (and maybe expect) a perfect holiday, and when something goes wrong or not quite how we planned it – we get upset. Let it go! Enjoy the moment with all of life’s imperfections! Sometimes easier said than done. Keep the song “Let it Go” in your mind.
- Not everyone we meet is having a Merry Christmas. Loss of loved ones, difficult past experiences, loss of a job, financial challenges to name a few, can cause stress, loneliness and sadness. Kindness is never inappropriate, even for someone who seems very Grinchy.
- Let go of the idea of “the perfect tree”, “the perfect family gathering”, “the perfect meal”; As we let go of these ideas, we are able to open ourselves up to experiencing greater joy in the reality of the moment. Let go of false illusions and celebrate the moment.