The holidays can be a magical time of year; beautiful white snow falling, love, warmth, and generosity abound. However, they can also be a very stressful time of year. As life piles up, expectations surmount, and nostalgic memories of holidays passed come into view, one can find themselves feeling quite overwhelmed at this time of year. Here are some tips that I find helpful for keeping my mental, physical, and spiritual health in check over the holidays.
Let go of expectations
There are so many expectations around this time of year. From gift giving to party hosting, people often put a lot of stress on themselves around the holidays because they "really should be doing this or that" or wonder "what will Sally think if I don't do this or that".
Now, letting go of expectations, especially long-held traditional ones, may be easier said than done.
Don't abandon them altogether, just be more mindful of why you're doing what you're doing. Try replacing "I should do this" with "I'm doing this because..." or "I'm not doing this because...". This allows you to be more intentional about what you're doing and let go of habits that are maybe not serving you or anyone else anymore.
Simply by being more intentional, you may see the magical mind shift from autopilot to presence and might be surprised to see it reciprocated by those you're being more present with.
Yes you read that right. As a naturopathic doctor, I see a lot of guilt and shame around food, especially near the holidays. I don't like this. Good food can be powerful medicine, especially if it's shared among friends and family.
It doesn't have to be a big elaborate meal either. Even a simple meal that was prepared with love and enjoyed with mindful appreciation can be magical. The interesting thing about mindful eating is that it makes it difficult to over-indulge.
So, enjoy every bite, be thankful for it, and listen to your body when it tells you it's full.
Did you know that there is actually evidence of a neural link between generosity and happiness?
To me this doesn't necessarily mean buying all the best gifts. Be generous with your time by being fully present in your interactions with others. Maybe spend some time connecting with someone who doesn't have family around for the holidays. Make a home-cooked meal for someone who might not otherwise get one. Spend some time volunteering for an organization you care about.
There are so many ways to be generous and generosity is a surefire way to infuse happiness and magic into your holidays.
In all the busyness of the season, this one often gets forgotten and it's so important, especially at this time of year. As we enter the winter season (the season of the kidneys in Traditional Chinese Medicine), it is important to take time to reflect.
Take some time out of your day (even if it's only a few minutes in between tasks) to pause and be still. Reflect on your day, notice what you're spending time thinking about. Even a few moments of simply paying attention to your breathing in silence can bring you back into the present moment and make the rest of the day's tasks more meaningful.
You may have noticed a theme through all of these tips but in case you missed the memo, be present. Mindfulness is so important for connecting with the world around us and makes everything a little more meaningful and magical.
Do you have any tips for keeping the magic of the season? I'd love to hear from you.
If you're feeling incredibly overwhelmed this season, you're definitely not alone, reach out and ask for help.
Wishing you all a wonderful, mindful holiday season!