The Holidays are upon us, and, for some, it’s a celebratory and exciting time of year. For others, it can be a time of sorrow and conflict. But for all of us, it is a time of added pressures and obligations. Here are a few tips to help make your holiday season as stress-free as possible.
1) Practice self-care: The holidays are one of the busiest times of year for many of us, and it’s easy to get lost in the planning, shopping, and parties. We lose sight of the moment and what’s truly important. Self-care gives us the opportunity to slow down, to become aware of and savor the present moment, and to reflect and find clarity. Despite the hustle and bustle, try to maintain your healthy habits when possible such as eating well, getting enough rest, and exercising. Also, if you have been considering mediation practice, now may be the time to start. In whatever way you practice self-care, whether that be practicing mindfulness, taking a break and sipping some delicious tea, or getting a massage, be sure to make time for you this holiday season. This time can be a very powerful gift.
2) Set boundaries: It’s ok to say no! During the holidays, we often over-obligate ourselves without even realizing it. Pre-empt this by taking a moment to look at your calendar and schedule some time that is earmarked solely for you or your family. View this time as sacred, and, when the invitations come in, give yourself permission to decline. If you are concerned about letting someone down or angering someone, ask yourself these questions: 1) What would I tell my friend to do? And: 2) What is the worst that could happen? There are other ways to address concerns of over-obligating yourself such as scheduling an after-holiday lunch or coffee date, sending a basket of baked goods, or simply making a phone call.
3) Let predictability be your friend: We typically know family and friends well enough that we can anticipate their behavior. If you find yourself feeling a bit on edge, stressed out, or even having a strong reaction to a comment or behavior, take a moment to think before you react. This can be difficult in the moment and even more so during times of stress, so set your intention to pause before reacting and think about responding with compassion. This will feel better in the long run. It’s also ok to take a break when visiting with family and friends. For example, take a mindful walk, paying attention to all the sensations on your path. Ground yourself. What do you see, feel, hear, smell, and even taste? If you can’t leave the house or it’s too cold to take a walk, take a moment to do the same exercise in the room you are in. The bathroom is also a great place to take a breath.
4) Give gifts from the heart: Finances are a stressor for many of us throughout the year but even more so during the holidays. There is pressure to buy gifts for almost everyone in your life, and this can be overwhelming. Think about writing a letter and telling people why they are so important to you. Even simple but meaningful tokens of appreciation can do the trick. Feeling loved and included is what most us strive for, and hearing that we are loved means more than the bottle of wine or fruitcake.
5) Have fun: Set a goal this holiday season to have fun and enjoy the moment instead of getting wrapped up in all the stress that often accompanies the holiday season. Focus on the feelings of warmth, kindness, gratitude, and compassion and to your connection to family, friends, and loved ones who gather.
Happy holidays to you and your family from Better Being CT!