Whether or not we feel connected to a religion or spiritual tradition, the Thanksgiving to New Years holiday season can be a hectic, overwhelming time. Whether we call ourselves religious or not, the energy of this season, particularly with Christmas, seems to take over the United States. There are holiday lights, displays and Christmas carols blaring everywhere we go. There are work parties, more social events, and an increase in consumerism as we buy gifts and trinkets for the people we are connected to.
For some, this time of year is a blessing, the flurry of activity feels invigorating! Maybe the many social events and family occasions feel nourishing. And for many, this time of year feels hard. Overwhelming, triggering, full of grief, loneliness or stress. Maybe it’s simply annoying! Here is some great news... we don’t have to do the holidays that way we always have. We have choice. This time of year can also include turning in and nourishing ourselves, delighting in this cozy time of year. Here are some ways not not just survive, but thrive during the holiday season!
1. Slow Down
It feels as if everything happens all at once, holiday parties, cards, shopping, etc...and everything goes seems to go slower, like traffic, grocery shopping, long lines everywhere. We cannot control the world around us but we can control the pace at which we move. We think multitasking and rushing will save us time later, but that never quite works, does it?
Instead, take a look at your calendar, can you schedule block each week to go slow? (Baths, walks, mindfulness practices, reading, curling up with people/pets you love)
Can you move slower when in the midst of the madness? Can you practice mindfulness while driving in holiday traffic with deep breaths, body scans and peaceful music on the car stereo or public transportation headphones? Can you feel you feet and take belly breaths while standing in long lines? Approach these practices with curiosity and see how they feel.
In our hashtag culture, self-care has come to mean tropical vacations and mani-pedis but true self-care runs deeper. Self-care means really tuning into ourselves and asking what’s needed. Do we need rest? A night in? A healthy meal free from the sugar that seems to overflow around the holidays? Do we need to say “no” to the too many social events on our calendars and tend ourselves and our partners/pets/families? True self-care means we are in alignment with what we need, not what our thoughts say we “should” do.
Due to the chaotic nature of this season, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the hard feelings that may arise and give ourselves compassion. It could be as simple as placing a hand on your heart and offering yourself soothing words, as you would to a friend or family member who is having a hard time. “Oh honey, I feel you. This is hard. I’m so sorry you’re suffering, I’m here.”
It may mean reaching out for support from others, intimate loved ones, community, a therapist, coach or counselor. If hard feelings are bubbling up, there’s no reason not to take the opportunity to work skillfully with them! This can be an unexpected gift.
4. Remember: Gratitude and Giving
It’s easy to remember everything we don’t appreciate about our families and friends at this time of year, when stress runs high and time runs short. But here again, is where we can exercise choice. Are we focusing on what what hurts or what helps? Obsessing about how everyone around us is wrong, hurts. Looking at those same people through the lens of gratitude and appreciation changes everything. Instead of focusing on what we’re not getting (support, the right gifts or words, etc.) we can focus on what we are receiving, and feel grateful for that! Instead of focusing on the wants, the poverty mentality that abounds when we are stuck in old thought processes, we can look around and see what’s needed. Do the people around us need some extra help or support? Is there a local shelter that needs a meal served or food donated? Do you know a family that’s in need this holiday season? This winning combo of gratitude and giving ends up being the best gift to ourselves we could ever ask for.
However you choose to engage in this holiday season, know that you are in our thoughts. We commend your courage in trying something new to take care of you this season.... you are most certainly worth it!
At the Strength in Motion wellness community, we believe in a mind-body-soul approach towards finding and sustaining balance. We feel honored to be on your path in some way and are here to support you in living to your greatest potential. Click here to find out more information about who we are and how we may be a support to you.