Five Tips for Staying Peaceful & Balanced During the Holidays
I often cringe when I hear the holiday song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” playing on the radio this time of year.
While the holidays can indeed be a joyous time of year, they can also feel challenging and not-so-wonderful if:
it’s your first holiday after the loss of a loved one
if you’re struggling financially
if you struggle with depression and/or loneliness
if you’re coping with a serious health issue
or caring for a loved one who is ill.
Even if life is feeling pretty darn good right now, the holidays can often add extra stress with longer to-do lists, more social obligations and holiday travel. Let alone spending time with family. Even if you get along great with your family, there’s almost no one who can more easily trigger us. As the wise Ram Dass once said: “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” ;-)
I want you to take a minute right now, thought, to envision yourself on January strolling into 2019 feeling well-rested, peaceful, calm and balanced. Really let yourself sense into how you would feel in your body, mind and heart if that were to happen.
Now I want you to take a minute (you might even jot down a few notes for yourself) and ask yourself:
“What do I need to do for myself the next couple
weeks in order to make this vision a reality?”
To help you out, I’ve shared five tips below that can assist you in creating a more peaceful and balanced existence during the holidays….
1. Determine your basic/minimum self-care requirements. What is so important to your well-being that you will do it no matter what? This could be waking early to meditate, getting in a workout 4 days a week, going fro a daily walk, or begin in bed each night by 10 pm at the latest. Think about what you absolutely need to feel your best and then commit to doing it. And then take this a step further and schedule it in your calendar. For me, this looks like getting up each morning early enough to do at least 20 minutes of meditation before I begin my day and at night before I go to bed I end my day with a relaxing guided meditation and a gratitude ritual.
2. Prioritize your commitments.Remember that saying “no” to something often means saying “yes” to yourself. Honor your needs this holiday season and embrace the JOMO i(“joy of missing out”) f it means giving yourself some much-needed downtime to catch up on rest or extra time with your family. This past weekend I had to do this after fighting off a cold and nasty cough… my body needed the extra rest and downtime and I skipped a couple holiday parties in order to give my body the rest and time it needed to heal. Now, today, I’m so grateful I did… with a full week and holiday travel ahead I’m feeling back to 100%.
3. Embrace this mantra: “Appreciation not expectation.”The holidays can be a loaded time with “Norman Rockwell” like expectations of everyone sitting around a beautiful fireplace getting along perfectly. But real life isn’t like that. Family arguments and disagreements happen. Flights get canceled. Uncle Al still drinks too much. Can you let go of your expectations about how things “should” be and instead be thankful for how they are?
Cultivating gratitude is one of the quickest and most powerful ways to shift your mood and when we see things through the lens of appreciation we realize how much we truly have to be grateful for in our life. One little trick I use is to make myself acknowledge something or someone I’m grateful for each time I catch myself complaining.
Can you let go of your expectations about how things “should” be and instead be thankful for how they are?
4. Take some time to reflect. The shorter days around the Winter Solstice are the perfect time of the year to go more inward and reflect on the last year before you begin planning for 2019. Ask yourself:
What have been some of the highlights of my 2018?
What challenges have I faced this year?
What have I learned and how have I grown this year?
What do I want to celebrate as the year ends? (This could be ways in which you’ve grown, the resilience you showed in the face of challenges, or specific accomplishments)
As I look back on the year, I would say it was the year of ___________. (choose a word or two that captures the essence of your year).
I would like to make sure I complete or do _____________ before 2018 ends.
5. Cherish the time you have with your loved ones. Each day we have is truly precious and the time we have this holiday season with friends, family and other loved ones will not last forever. Even in the midst of challenges, remember that this moment, this day, this particular holiday… will never come again. Make the most if it and remember to do whatever you need to take really good care of yourself in the midst of it. Your “Future Self” will thank you when January rolls around!