The holidays always creep up on me...somehow I lose track of the days and when I think I’ve started early or am more prepared every year I inevitably get overwhelmed.
This is in some part, part of the season, but this year I am putting my mindful practices in place to be prepared for the month.
Like everything, the best way to be enjoy all the goings on and also be kind to myself is to plan and schedule. Otherwise parties, gatherings, baking, shopping will creep and extend into all the open spaces and leave me tired and frazzled, worrying if I’ve forgotten something. This year I will enjoy it and enjoy myself without losing more marbles.
Here is a list of action items I am employing this year - taken from my everyday practice. Every year I work on making these flow with more ease. Isn’t this the reason why we have this mindful practice - to depend on the tools when days get busy and flow is harder to appreciate?
Managing Holiday Stress
Choosing my holiday activities mindfully and with purpose
Traditions are great but just because I’ve participated in some events or routines in the past doesn’t mean I can’t adjust how I engage or if I engage at all this year. For example, instead of baking for all my friends I am only baking for teachers and school staff now. Or instead of filling up my calendar with a variety of events, I am grouping them. It is easier for me to go from one event to another in one night, rather than be out too many nights in one week.
I am also mindfully saying yes, or no, and mindfully choosing where I can simplify. We visit our families in Toronto every year and there are so many family, godparents, friends to visit in a short period of time. The saving grace is a calendar where everyone and every visit is accounted for. This year I am building in time to just be. We stay with my parents, but rarely see them with all the over-scheduling. This year 'being' time is a new engagement.
Remember I know how to be calm
Meditation and conscious breathing give our bodies a chance to pause and relax. Crowds while shopping, over-scheduling, or dealing with emotionally challenging colleagues and family are the opposite of calm. Just like I use a stretch, a walk or breathing between tasks, I can do the same when in these moments. Consciously. The anxiety is not worth it.
Even in the middle of busy store we can stop and have 4 deep breaths. Use Dr Weil’s breathing sequence - breathe in through your nose for 4 counts hold for 7, and release through your mouth for 8. Repeat 4 times.
Limit alcohol, drink more water and even an extra green juice!
Of course it’s fun to have a glass of wine or two, but I must remember my limits. I joke that I am a cheap date, because ever since I’ve had kids, I can feel 1 glass of wine really easily. I’m feeling fine and happy :)
However any increased alcohol (more than you’re used to) will affect your sleep, increase your cortisol levels and affect your digestion.
Having a glass of water between drinks or making your wine a spritzer instead will limit the amount of alcohol consumed and the amount of calories!
Don’t forget your vitamins!
Parties with finger foods do not always include good for you greens...plus there is all that chocolate...our diets definitely have gaps in them. I don’t recommend ‘saving’ your calories for the party because it is a recipe for over-indulgence.
When we are not following our regular healthy diets it is even more important to be diligent with our nutrient intake by taking the best, pharmaceutical grade vitamins available. Here are the ones I trust and take daily.
Create a budget for 'me' gifts - I always find something for me!
I always find something (okay lots of things) for myself while shopping. Mainly because I am not shopping that often during the year, and of course the merchandising and gift-y items that are hard to resist, or that I’ve always needed abound. Yes I add in some purchases for me! Of course!
This year, being mindful about those purchases means no impulse buys...take a look, sleep on it, look around to find the perfect 'me' gift and then decide. There is so much to choose from, we are bound to find lots of options. The rest can go on your list ;)
In addition to making a list of to-do’s as a family we make a list of 'to-experience'. But not only as a family, for myself and for myself and husband too. Scheduling and planning early will give us time to flow and not feel like we have to rush to accomplish it. Back to mindful scheduling, prioritizing the visits and honoring everyone’s needs will help reveal what our best choices are and will help with making decisions when unexpected options pop up.
Focus on gratitude Everybody gets busy over the holidays. It can be overwhelming when so many events and people are all important. Practicing gratitude will help remind us why we all run around and how lucky we are that we have somewhere to run to. If the holidays are tough this year because of the loss of a loved one, or financial constraints, go to gratitude for the abundance that we do have.
How many more holidays will we share with our grandparents or parents? Hopefully many, maybe only a handful - remember why we are together. We can’t change our family, we can’t change our pasts. Be with them by just being yourself. You don’t have to be right. Let things go.
Keeping the holidays under control and yourself happy will ensure the holidays run smoothly with flow for everyone in your family!