Finding Calm Amongst Holiday Chaos
It’s basically Christmas… at least it feels like it! For most of us this time of year means increased chaos (and of course, fun!). Travel. Parties. Family. To-do lists that seem to never end.
While just thinking about this season may cause some stress and anxiety, I invite you to look at this time of year as an opportunity to put your mindfulness practices to work. We practice mindfulness during times of calm and ease to prepare for times exactly like this.
Don’t Skimp On Your Self-Care: “Self-care” is starting to sound like the wellness buzzword of the moment, but what I mean here is that it’s vital to prioritize time for those things that keep your energy stable and make you feel rested and restored. If you miss that workout, you’re going to have a shorter fuze. If you don’t take time to meal prep, you’re going to feel cranky after eating crap. If you miss your morning meditation, you’re going react more harshly to your aunt’s snarky comments. Each week, identify what your self-care activities are going to be and stick to them. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary. You’ll show up as a better person for yourself and your friends and family.
Don’t Take It Personally: If you haven’t read The Four Agreements yet, I highly recommend you add it to your list. One of the agreements is “Don’t Take Anything Personally”. This is great wisdom to remember during the holidays when we can become extra sensitive around family members and friends we don’t see all the time and who have the perfect knack for pushing our buttons (intentionally or unintentionally). The thing to remember is that whatever anyone says or does, is not a reflection of you, it’s actually a reflection of them. Something they are going through or haven’t quite dealt with yet. So, pause, take a breath, and move on knowing you can let that go and not take it personally!
Breathe: Ahhh, the breath… our steady and reliable friend who is always there to bring us back to the present moment and physiologically slow us down. Is it just me, or during the holidays does it seem like the dial on everything is turned up just a little higher? More traffic. More people out and about. Less patient and kind humans in general. When things get a little crazier than normal, just remember your breath. A car cuts you off in traffic when everyone is rushing around Christmas Eve? Instead of reacting, just use it as a reminder to take a deep breath then exhale and let that sh*t go. Coming back to the breath is a strategy you can use at any time during the holiday madness and it’ll always be there for you, in your control, to help bring calm and perspective. The pause that focusing on the breath allows can be just enough time to allow us to laugh off a situation that otherwise may have set us off.
Exercise Self-Compassion: Didn't have time to make the perfect pie from scratch? Settled for a gift card for your cousin because you couldn't think of a great gift? Didn’t make it to the volunteer event you’ve been wanting to participate in for years? We can unintentionally be our own worst enemies by imposing super-human expectations on ourselves. Offering kindness to ourselves can be the best gift we can give. When we are more kind towards ourselves, we will be more kind and compassionate towards others… and we all know the world could use a little more of that. So, take a little pressure off. It’s OK, I promise. And if you do fall into a guilt spiral of not getting something done or doing something perfectly, remind yourself that it’s ok. Your value is not in doing and giving. It’s in just being. Let go of some of those expectations and enjoy the time and the company this time of year offers.
Play around with these tips and see if you can curate a smoother holiday season. My hope is that you’re able to look back in January and remember all the joy the end of the year brought, recognizing that you were able to let the chaos and stress roll right off your back as you stayed present and centered.
If you don’t already have some sort of regular mindfulness practice… a way to get still, to get centered, to train your brain to come back to the present moment… now is a great time to start. And if you aren't sure how to get started beyond the tips above, I’ve got you. Download my free Mindfulness Starter Kit for 3 simple steps to boost your energy and get focused.
It’s typically in the moments of reflection that we realize the magic that our mindfulness practice has brought into our lives. So go ahead, set that intention for January.