Thanksgiving has moved quickly behind us and we’re now in the thick of the holiday season. Each year the energy of the season seems to pick up earlier and earlier and a sense of urgency seems to permeate the air.
It is not easy to stay calm and jolly and at peace with the hustle and bustle that sets in around us.
The busyness that sets in this time of year is actually at odds with the natural rhythm of the season. Rather than moving into a cycle of slowing down, going into the darkness, and going within, we create this holiday activity that is active, time consuming, and, often, stressful and frenetic. With all the demands and expectations we put on ourselves, self-care typically gets put on the back burner until after the holidays.
We can have a different experience.
What if there was a way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the season and find peace? What if there was a way to experience the holiday season in a way with deeper meaning and a greater sense of love and connection?
The period of Advent, which begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasts for four weeks, is meant to be a joyous time of year, filled with anticipation and hope. By moving through the Advent Season with mindfulness and conscious intent you can prepare yourself, and your family, for a holiday season that will fill you with the Christmas spirit in its truest sense.
Let’s look at four key self-care strategies to carry us through the season.
And remember, it is a season, not just a single day.
1. Be clear. Define what gives meaning to your holiday experience.
Ask yourself what is it that you want out of Christmas:
More togetherness with those you love and are close to?
Freedom from the demands that others have placed on you during past Christmases?
No financial regrets or credit card debt?
A deeper spiritual experience?
Less stress and more joy?
Take a moment and think back over your own holiday memories.
What are your memories of childhood Christmases?
What gives you the most joy through the holidays?
What causes you the most stress?
What do you least look forward to?
What do you most look forward to?
What is it that you want to do each year, but never seem to get done?
Use your insights to help recognize what you need for a more joyful holiday.
2. Be true to your vision. Establish priorities and Set boundaries.
What changes can you make to delegate dump, delete, or modify the challenging aspects of your Christmas experience?
What can be let go of completely?
What can be simplified.
Who do you need to have some conversation with?
It is crucial to recognize that we can’t do it all. If you want to have the holiday experience you envision, it is important to ask yourself what needs to happen? What can you get help with? How can the tasks be more fun?
Release expectations, from yourself and from others, that are not in alignment with your vision. Even if something has always been done a certain way, it doesn’t have to continue that way. Feel free to do things differently and to start new traditions.
3. Be present. Bring a deeper consciousness and intention to your experience.
It is by staying in the present that you will find the joy. Mindfulness is simply about awareness and presence. Have fun. Enjoy what is in front of you. Let love be the guiding force for the tasks you take on, or don’t do them.
Becoming more mindful of your holiday experience can help you find balance so that what might have been a very hectic holiday instead become one that is meaningful and peaceful and fulfilling.
4. Be self-honoring. Take good care of yourself: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Eat well. Get plenty of sleep. Care for your body.
Silence your inner critic and disrupt negative thinking.
Ask for what you need and speak your truth. Honor any feelings that arise as feedback about your interaction with life. Notice and respond to them.
Allow time to reflect and slow down. Create silence and peaceful space. Nourish your spiritual connection. Take time, even if its just a few minutes each day, for spiritual practices that support and sustain you.
My wish is that you embrace these four self-care strategies not only for this holiday season, but also moving forward into the new year, and on into the years to come:
As we learn to live with these principles every day, we create life from a place of authenticity. Life becomes an expression of who we truly are, reflecting our dreams and desires, our compassion, our enthusiasm, and our joy.