Here are some tips to maintain your sanity and enjoy the festive season.
The holiday season is officially upon us. What this can mean is pressure, busyness and madness too. Unfortunately then the joy, magic, and meaning of the season can be lost, often replaced by stress.
As we enter the month of December, it is hard to ignore the almost instantaneous rush of frenetic energy that ensues as we near the close of the calendar year.
It is more than possible though to not only survive the ‘silly’ season, but to even thrive and connect to your priorities and what is meaningful for you in a deeper and more profound way. Here are some common stressors that may emerge this time of year, and some mindful strategies to help you through them:
1) Expectations of ‘perfection’
This time of year is ripe with the expectations we put upon ourselves (and others) to get it just ‘right.’ Things have to look, taste, feel, and be a certain way. We can get into a mind space where things have to be ‘perfect’, which of course, is not possible. .
While it’s nice to take the time to create a mindful, aesthetically, and gastronomically pleasing experience, and frustration. Not only does this make the festive period feel less joyful, we also set ourselves up to experience a lot of disappointment.
Tip # 1: Reflect on the meaning of the festive season
It can be a challenge to stop and smell the roses at any time of year, but it’s especially easy to get caught up in the commercial version of what the holiday season means today. Taking the time to mindfully reflect on what matters – what really matters – whether it be your religion or tradition, or even the healing power of love, helps us to keep it all in perspective.
2) Demands on your time
In December, our schedules often fill up quickly with work and personal holiday parties or commitments. These numerous plans start to feel overwhelming as we try to juggle them with all of our (usual) other priorities and commitments.
Also, creating the holiday experience we desire for our loved ones and ourselves does take planning. It often starts to feel like we’re headless chooks running around packing or buying and wrapping gifts, inviting guests, hosting, traveling, cooking, cleaning, buying trees, and/or decorating.
Tip # 2: Treat yourself!
You don’t need to say‘yes’ to everything. Think about this: when you say ‘yes’ to something, what (or who) are you saying ‘no’ to? It’s usually YOU. Giving and giving to others without stopping is not altruistic. It is important to be mindful of when we might need refuelling and to allow some time for that to happen. Self-care can mean many things, but it can be as simple as a night to yourself that may include a movie, some relaxing music and a good meal—cooked by someone else!
3) The indulgence or guilt cycle
We can easily allow our notions of wellness and health fall by the wayside during this time of year. Not only is this unhealthy and mind-less, we are also setting ourselves up for feelings of guilt and self-deprecation.
A thriving life depends on moderation, and this concept particularly applies when we are inundated with copious amounts of food and drinks. By , we can keep our mind, body, and brain healthy without the self-defeating thoughts of ‘I’m so bad’, or ‘I’m so fat’ or ‘who cares anyway’, etc.
Tip # 3: Take time to enjoy all the flavours of the festive season
Here are the A, B, C, D, E ways to begin a mindful eating practice:
A. Ask – why am I eating now? What am I eating now? What else am I doing right now that may be distracting?
B. Be grateful – give genuine thanks and appreciation for the options you are choosing to enjoy
C. Chew thoroughly – slow down the motions of your jaw, and pay attention to the sensations of the food being enjoyed in your mouth
D. Dine – attending to your meals as an experience; don’t just eat
E. Engage your attention – be fully present where you are with all your focus and senses
4) Loneliness during the festive period
There is immense we love and care about with gifts we think they will appreciate. Instead of a joyful endeavour, gift giving can become a stressful chore, and we can often feel resentful and unappreciated if we don’t receive something equally meaningful in return – even if just a ‘thank you’.
Pressure can also manifest by way of longing to spend some of the break with those you care about and love, and those you desire to love. For many, this may create feelings of loneliness.
Tip # 4: Volunteer your time to help those less fortunate
The festive period is a particularly poignant time to practice – to think of others’ needs before our own. There are great opportunities to give to, and establish meaningful connections with, those who don’t have as many resources as we do – not even a friend or family member for love, comfort or support. Giving doesn’t have to be monetary or a physical gift at all. , including smiles, a hand shake, time, and/or a hug.
5) Stress and social anxiety
Family stress can show up in a number of ways. However, most of the stress and anxiety around friends and family is often anticipatory. Based on unfavourable past experiences, combined with the impending mix of differing personalities (and opinions), we may start to worry about social dysfunction rearing its ugly head. While there may be some difficulties surrounding the interpersonal dynamics, we can sometimes get caught up in fuelling the fire, rather than abating it.
Tip # 5: Engage in gratitude
Take time to step back and count your blessings rather than your stresses. Give your focus to all that you do have. Science now validates that gratitude goes a long way in improving our overall wellness. During this time of year, a sense of gratitude can easily subside as indulgence and the idea of ‘more’ and ‘merriment’ are front and centre.
So during this festive season, re-centre yourself and what really matters by consciously being grateful for the multiple aspects of this season (and your life and experiences), and your loved ones, that you may be blessed to engage with.
Remember, whilst this can indeed be a ‘merry’ time for many, this season can also be a supremely lonely and sad time for those of us who don’t have family members around them. If you know of someone who may be alone over the festive season, extend an invitation to talk, walk, share a cuppa, laugh or meal together. Anything is better than nothing. You have no clue as to how special and how significant your kind gesture may mean to their entire experience of the festive season.
That’s exactly the reason why I put together a very special gift pack called – I Care. You Matter.
I know that it’s hard to believe but Christmas is not too far away!
It is a great way to show someone that they do matter in your life so why not give them around Christmas time and remind them how much they mean to you.
Listen to what the I Care. You Matter gift pack is all about, and what’s included below.
So give the gift of you – your time, your grace, your kindness, your compassion this year. Because ‘giving’ feels good for the giver and is a gift to yourself too!
With love and best wishes to you and yours for a loving and grace-filled ‘silly’ season,
Would you like to be part of my inner circle – the Josie Thomson tribe? I’m changing the way I’m doing things and I would love YOU to be part of it!! Details will be released soon, so watch your inbox!