Now that Thanksgiving has just passed, most of us are feeling the accelerated pace of the world around us as we enter the official holiday season. It is very easy to become overwhelmed with shopping, visiting family and friends, preparing large family meals, attending special holiday performances, and traveling. This is the time of year where all the intense activity, in addition to the emotional highs and lows that accompany the holidays, can really take a toll on our health – mentally, emotionally, and physically.
In order to truly enjoy the holidays, it is essential to take time to regenerate yourself and to keep your energy balanced. The following are some ways to remain centered in the midst of all the hustle and bustle:
1. Stay in touch with your feelings – It is so easy to get carried away with all the outer stimulation that you can lose perspective on the signals you are getting from your mind and body. Periodically check in with your feelings and honor your needs. For example, if you feel tired, rest; if you feel overwhelmed, slow down the pace; if you feel sad, allow yourself to express your true feelings.
2. Determine what matters most to you – Quite often, we are so busy reacting to the demands of the holidays that we lose sight of what we most want to experience. Write down a list of the people whom you most want to see and the activities that you enjoy the most and make them a priority. You may discover that there are quite a few activities that had already been scheduled that you actually prefer not to have on your list.
3. Have reasonable expectations – The main reason that people become discouraged and disappointed with the holidays is that they have unrealistic expectations that are not met. Thinking that every member of your family is going to get along at the family reunion, that you are going to cook a perfect meal that pleases everyone, and that you are going to be on an emotional high throughout the holidays is bound to create disappointment.
4. Focus on the simple pleasures – The most fulfilling experiences frequently do not cost a lot of money. Taking a walk with a friend or relative, making cookies with children, playing games, reading by the fireside, and volunteering at a local charity are but a few of the experiences that nurture the heart with little or no demand on the pocketbook.
5. Express gratitude – Being thankful opens your heart and creates the opportunities to being in the flow and to savoring the positive within everyone and everything that you are experiencing, however it unfolds. Accept that every holiday is different and perfect in its own way.
6. Breathe, breathe, breathe – We all have a tendency to “hold our breath” when we are busy and under stress. Simply creating frequent times throughout the day to take some deep breaths is a great way to diffuse stress.
Most importantly, the true meaning of the holiday season is to remember our heart connection with others through the power of love. By being kind to yourself and honoring your own needs, you create a balanced foundation from which to share your love with others in a peaceful way.