Savoring the Holiday Season

Many often refer to the holiday season as their favorite time of the year. Interestingly, when you ask anyone how they’re feeling during these next few weeks, you will often hear some variation of “busy,” “stressed,” or even “broke.” Scheduling, planning, purchasing, and preparing for our many gatherings and events can be overwhelming and exhausting. We get caught by distractions and the spur of the moment impulses, riding our auto-pilot mode and making decisions contrary to our plans.

We often wait until New Year’s resolutions to change some of these auto-pilot habits that do not serve us well.  But the time to make a change is now. Try following some of these tips to help celebrate this season with more ease and a greater ability to experience joy as you give your full presence to connect with family and friends.

  1. Set an intention for this holiday season. It can be as broad or specific as you wish, but take a moment to consider how you’d like to spend these upcoming weeks and where you want to focus your time and energy. This simple action creates awareness, and will help you prioritize.
  2. Acknowledge your entrenched holiday habits. The force of habit (also known as our habit energy) is the momentum that propels us down familiar paths in life. Even when we’ve acknowledged the need to change our habits, it’s easy to stay in auto-pilot. You likely have specific holiday patterns, such as rushing, over-committing, overspending, or over consuming. What else? Without blaming yourself, look at these habits and ask: Do these habits serve me well?
  3.  Practice compassionate listening with friends and family. In order to truly appreciate the time we have with loved-ones, we must be fully present. The perfect times to practice compassionate listening are times when it’s most difficult to remain present—when we have disagreements with loved ones, or strong emotions arise. When we leave our body and disconnect our consciousness from the present moment, we miss valuable lessons, connections and understanding. Remember to observe with care whatever emotions are present for you, and treat yourself with loving compassion.
  4. Take some time to do nothing. Even a few restful moments in between activities, or at the end of the night, can reduce stress and improve awareness and mood. Remember: Doing nothing doesn't mean checking email, chatting on the phone, planning your shopping list, or thinking about your next event.
  5. Just breathe. We put so much on our to-do lists that we may be stacking-up tasks back to back. We need mini breaks to refresh ourselves. For example, don’t try and juggle preparing for a holiday meal while wrapping gifts—tying bows while the oven preheats. If you’re baking, just bake. If you’re wrapping, just wrap. Once one task is finished, refrain from immediately jumping into another. Instead, use that moment to just breathe to help you instantly come back to yourself and check-in on how you are feeling:

        Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
        Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

        Breathing in, I am fully aware of this moment.
        Breathing out, it is a wonderful and nourishing moment.