The holiday season has arrived and despite the joy and merriment there is often a higher than normal level of stress. Here are my ten tips for bringing more joy and less stress into your holidays. Practice these and you will enjoy this special time of year while maintaining your well-being.
1. Remember the true meaning of our holidays. Connect to the meaning behind our festivities and celebrating. Are we celebrating shopping or are we actually celebrating each other? How might you realign your activities to the true meaning of the holidays?
2. Less is more. The USA is the “supersize” country. We do this with everything. We are the uber-consumer. Remember the simple things in life. Those are the things that touch our hearts. Bake cookies for someone you love. Share your Thanksgiving dinner with those who have no where to go. Have your children make their Christmas cards for relatives. Something made by hand, a meal or a gift, is imbued with love and care and much appreciated.
3. Learn when to say no and when to say yes. The holidays are filled with events and demands on our time. We have all experienced going to events when we would rather have stayed home. In advance choose what events you will attend and build in plenty of home time to share with those closest to you.
4. Practice generosity. There are so many people in our communities who are not as fortunate as you. Get involved to whatever extent you can with your community and the organizations that help those in need. You may not be able to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving Day but you may be able to buy a winter coat for a child in need. Be generous with your presence. Listen deeply. When speaking with another person be fully present. Be a compassionate witness for those who have difficulty at this time of year.
5. Celebrate in your heart. True celebration comes from within. Celebrating your life and your loves, giving thanks for waking up each morning with another chance to grow and learn and love is worth celebrating intentionally. No need for a party to do this. A walk through snowy woods, or quietly sitting by the fireplace in contemplation is enough to connect to the gratitude in your heart.
6. Drop perfect. Let go of having to be the perfect host, the perfect daughter or son, wife or husband, mother or father. Wine stains and burnt bacon are part of life so why should now be any different?
7. Embrace cuddling. Cuddle your spouse, friends, your children and most importantly give yourself a hug. We are all in desperate need of human connection in this wired world. A long cuddle on a cold morning is the best gift you can give to someone close to you.
8. Nourish yourself. This is the season that your self-care goes out the window. Be attentive to how much water you need to drink, to your nutrition, your exercise and don’t forget to sleep enough to feel refreshed every morning. Nourish yourself with quiet spaces in your day to be reflective and to bring tranquility into your body and soul.
9. Move with Nature’s cycle. Winter is a time of hibernation for animals. Slowing down to the rhythm of Nature can nourish you and prepare you for the budding of spring. Nature calls us to be more introspective within the darkness of late mornings and early evenings. Move with Nature’s rhythm and you will stay healthier and happier.
10. Connect to Spirit. I value this time as a gift, to slow down and reflect on the meaning of my life. I believe that we are but a drop in an infinite universal ocean whose movement generates ebbs and flows and whose true nature is a mystery. On these darker mornings I enjoy the changing color of the sky and the movement of the trees in the wind. These elements often bring me to tears as I sense the mystery of life manifest before my eyes. I am in deep gratitude on those mornings. Those moments keep me connected to my heart and spirit all day long.
Blessings to you and yours in this holiday season. May you be loved, may you love and may you find peace within.