This time of year can feel so full. And in that fullness, it can be easy to get caught up in the current. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of buying, wanting, not having enough. And it’s easy to get caught up in old patterns and family dynamics. And whenever we have the opportunity to get caught up, we also have the opportunity to strengthen our ability to stay grounded, centered, and in a place of peace. You know that saying that it’s easy to find peace when you’re surrounded by peace but the real growth is in the opportunities to find peace when you’re surrounded by chaos, conflict, and stress.
Let this holiday season be an opportunity to deepen your ability to stay centered regardless of what’s going on around you. Not only do you build resilience as you stay centered, but you are also better able to fully enjoy all of the goodness that the holidays have to offer. So I’ve compiled some tips and practices to support you in moving through the holidays consciously and intentionally.
1. Set your intentions for the holidays. Here are some questions to get you started:
What is most important to you over the holidays?
What gets in the way of prioritizing what’s most important?
When you look back at the holidays after they’re over, how do you want to feel?
You might choose to do this own your own or set some family intentions. It’s super easy to get off track (and very difficult to get back on track) when we don’t know what on track feels/looks like.
2. Check in with yourself regularly. Notice when you’re centered and when you’re not. When you’re acting consciously and when you’re reactive. What tells you? (You might want to go ahead and grab a pen to jot down some notes now so you don’t forget!) Get acquainted with these different states so that you can fully take in those moments of feeling present and at peace and so that you can notice and address it when you’re not.
3. Prioritize your self-care. We can never hear this enough. And when things get busy, self-care tends to be the first thing that goes by the wayside. Grab your planner and schedule some self-care time into your December calendar or jot down some helpful self-care reminders. It might look like scheduling a massage, making sure you get outside on your lunch break, making sure you get enough sleep, or being conscious of your sugar and alcohol intake. The more we have going on, the more we need to be taking care of ourselves in order to show up the way we want to.
4. Take breaks when needed. Today I sat down to write and was feeling completely blocked and the longer it was taking me to get started the more pressure I felt to get started. Then all of a sudden I realized that what I really needed was to pause and take a step back. So I closed my laptop, set my meditation timer and sat for just 5 minutes. What a difference that made! Another example might be taking a bit of time away from family if you’re feeling overwhelmed or agitated so that you can reset. So notice when you’re feeling stuck, blocked, or caught up in negativity, and take some space.
5. Slow down. When we’re surrounded by so much activity, stimulation, and pressure it’s easy to get caught up. And it has such an impact on our nervous system when we’re rushing through our day, especially for those of us who are highly sensitive. So make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get from place to place. And notice when you’re feeling that rushed energy while completing a task—take a break, breathe, stretch. The day will happen either way so choose how you want to go through it.
6. Breathe. This is such a simple and effective way to bring our awareness back to the present moment. It’s easy to get lost in the endless to do lists associated with the holidays or get caught up in anxiety and stress. When we come back to the breath, all of that falls away. The more often we practice this return to the breath, the easier and more automatic it becomes.
7. Spend time in nature. I know this isn’t always easy to do when it’s freezing out. But there’s nothing like being in nature to help us get out of the current and remember what’s important to us. So bundle up and plan a walk outdoors with your family after Christmas dinner rather than going to the movies this year! If they can’t go, take an hour and go solo.
8. Set your boundaries. Another one that I can’t say enough. This can be especially tricky a) when we enter into old family dynamics where it was adaptive not to have boundaries and b) when we’re under-resourced and depleted. So watch your energy level, take care of yourself when you feel depleted. If you know this is a challenge around your family, make sure you’re taking regular space away/time for yourself to stay centered and aware of your boundaries.
9. Practice gratitude and taking in the good. The more we notice and take in moments of gratitude, peace, joy, connection, the easier it becomes to recognize and continue creating these moments. And the easier it becomes to shift gears when we’re caught up in negativity or overwhelm. If you have kids, pay attention to what they find joy in—they are such great teachers for finding the joy in the ordinary. You might just notice and take in these moments or create some sort of daily gratitude practice where you revisit/write down/share aloud something you’re grateful for.
10. Practice compassion. See the light in yourself and in others. Stress manifests differently for all of us, and it’s easy to get caught up in blame, shame, guilt, frustration when we’re depleted or stressed. Take time to get curious about what’s really happening underneath the frustration or resentment. Don’t take things personally—whatever it is, it really is not about you. You might focus on practicing compassion daily by sending lovingkindness to yourself and to others or to a specific person you’re having a hard time with or you might just focus on tapping into compassion in a moment of stress.
Of course, I could go on and on with this list, but in an attempt to make this simple and concise, I’ll stop here. If I’ve missed any practices, tools, or tips that you find particularly supportive during the holiday season, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to learn about what works for you (and would love for others to get to benefit too!)
Invitation: Go through the above list. Set your intentions. Highlight the above practices (or come up with your own) that feel particularly supportive to you.
Affirmation: May your holiday season be full of joy and peace.