While the holiday season can bring forth loving, joyful moments, it can also bring stress and tension. With the additional holiday events in our calendar, the pressures that can come with gift giving, the desire to create and experience magical moments, and extra time spent with family, it can be even more difficult to carve out “me-time” to unwind and recharge. Without the time to reconnect with ourselves, we can feel easily overwhelmed and sink back into old habits and behavior patterns that no longer serve us.
To help you better manage the holidays so you can embrace the magic, warmth and love that comes with this time of year, I’ve outlined four simple tips and mindfulness strategies.
1. Practice Self-Love: Make a conscious commitment to honour YOU. Commit to bite sized nourishing practices and set healthy boundaries.
Even when time isn’t on our side and we can’t make room in our schedules to do our usual routine of self-love rituals, carving out time for the bite-sized practices is always possible. You may not have time to do your 10K run or your 2 hour yoga class, but you can carve out 20 minutes for a brisk walk or some sun salutations and favourite poses.
When it comes to indulgences, you know yourself best and you know exactly what your triggers and default patterns are. Perhaps you are a person who likes to drink and with the abundance of holiday parties, you find it difficult to turn down the extra glass of (mulled) wine or glass of bubbly. Or maybe you are a person who struggles with saying no to just one more of your favourite holiday sweets and savoury treats. Rather than over-indulging in these things (and, in all likelihood, feeling crappy and/or beating yourself up afterwards), create healthy boundaries around enjoying them. For example, decide how many drinks feel good for you before you hit the party and stick to it! It’s helpful to ensure you drink ample of water before you go out and in between beverages. As for food, fill up on healthy foods before you go to the party or family event so you already feel nourished when you get there. Then you won’t feel the need to fill up on the less healthy options. Another option (if possible) is to bring along your favourite “healthy” treat to share so you have something ‘guilt free’ to indulge in.
It’s not about saying no to practices that nourish you and cutting out all indulgences. It’s about saying yes to enjoying them in a bite sized way that lets you remain true to honouring YOU!
2. Practice Acceptance: As much as we love them, one of the most challenging aspects of the holidays can be spending more time with family. It’s easy to revert back to the old family dynamics and patterns you thought you grew out of :). Instead, embrace the holidays as a perfect time to practice acceptance. Work on accepting your needs and what’s most important to you, as well as accepting where others are at in life and who they are. So, instead of pandering to outdated dynamics, ask yourself if you need to speak out about what’s most important to you at that moment. Or, consider whether it would make more sense to change your perspective and simply accept that they are who they are – your choice is to take it or leave it. We cannot change others BUT we can change ourselves and how we react and respond to things, situations, or people.
3. Release Expectations: There are a lot of expectations at this time of year. Expectations to be, do and give.
I invite you to feel free to say NO if you need to. Sometimes curling up with a book or a favourite movie will serve you better than going to a holiday party. Similarly, hold a compassionate perspective if someone can’t attend your party or a party you planned on going to together.
Likewise, exchanging gifts is a significant part of the magic and beauty of this season. However, this can also become a rather stressful and daunting task. This stress is created when we feel bogged down by concerns with finances, finding the perfect gift, and whether the recipient will like the gift. The truth is, the act of giving is about the exchange of love, and the purest form of love is void of expectations; by this, I mean your expectations of yourself as well as the expectations of others.
So, I invite you to release expectations this season and instead be mindful that the essence of this time of year is about sharing love, joy and meaningful moments. When we open our hearts and minds, we are able to stop holding expectations for ourselves and others.
4. Remember to Breathe: Even when you practice self-love, acceptance of yourself and others, and you release expectations, it can still be difficult to remain calm and ‘zen.’ When you feel your blood start to boil, your tolerance dwindling, and stress and overwhelm building, remember to BREATHE. By simply taking 3-5 deep breaths we can release a tremendous amount of stress, agitation and overwhelm. By focusing on your breath, you are giving yourself the opportunity to remain in the present. When you’re in the present, it’s easier to keep calm and carry on!
My deepest wish is for you to have a holiday season where you remain true to yourself and enjoy all the magic, wonder, love and laughter the holiday season has to offer.
Sending big love today and always.