Let’s face it. The holidays are not always filled with peace on earth and good will. Oh sure, if you look at anyone’s Facebook posts or Instagram pictures, it all looks cheery and bright. Everything neat and tidy, everyone smiling, a picture of seasonal bliss.
No one posts a picture of the “behind the scenes” action.
The truth is the holidays can be a stressful time.
Extra long to do lists
Guilt driven commitments
Not to mention line-ups and traffic and crowds.
Its no wonder that people sometimes get a little grinchy this time of year.
I’m not saying that no one has a holly jolly good time. It’s just that the holidays add extra stress into our already jam-packed lives. Lots of people feel stretched – financially, emotionally, physically.
On top of everything else, all that busyness and added stress, makes time zoom by and the holidays come and go in the blink of a reindeer’s nose. Before you know it, you are packing up the tinsel wondering where the time went.
Instead why not bring a little mindfulness into your holiday experience this year?
Tips for a more mindful holiday
Here are some things to try to create a little more presence and purpose. They just might help you slow down a bit, take in the wonders of the season and remember what’s truly important.
Set an intention
What do you really want the holiday season to be about? Capture that feeling in 1-3 words. For example, it might be as simple as “love” or “peace on earth” or “merry and bright”. Choose something that resonates with you. Then write it on some sticky notes and post them as reminders. Keep coming back to this intention every day – and especially when times are frazzled. Ask yourself, “How can I bring/create/encourage more ________ right now?”
Use lineups as an opportunity
Standing in a line is all part of the festive experience. Instead of feeling frustrated or checking your phone, use your waiting time to simply breathe. See how many holiday blessings you can count. Or give up your spot to someone who looks like they really need it.
Savour a treat
There is no shortage of holiday goodies to enjoy. When you indulge, slow down and savour the experience. Start by noticing the colours and textures of your treat. Inhaling the aroma. Then take a bite and let it rest in your mouth a moment before you chew and swallow. Lick your lips. Wait before you take the next bite. Not only will you have a fuller experience, you just might find that you need fewer treats to feel satisfied.
Spread a little cheer
There are no shortages of random acts of kindness you can do to put a smile on someone’s face – everything from paying for an order in the drive through to popping some chocolates in a neighbour’s mailbox. How about candy cane bombing a parking lot? Grab a box of candy canes and leave one on the windshield of a bunch of cars at a shopping centre. Or hand them out on the bus or in a checkout line.Spread a little Christmas cheer! Give up your spot in a line or pop some chocolates in your neighbour's mailbox or candy cane bomb a parking lot Click To Tweet
Go for a walk
Getting outside for a little break is a great idea at any time of the year. Bundle up and take a walk in your neighbourhood. Take a break from all the planning and organizing in your head and notice the decorations. Breathe in some fresh air. See how nature is celebrating the season.
Send a card
Christmas cards are becoming a thing of the past with many people skipping them all together or only sending e-versions. Instead of adding this to your list of stuff to get done, instead write one meaningful card to someone. Share how they have made a difference in your life or what you appreciate most about them. Imagine the impact of receiving that very special gift in the mail.
Listen to music
Humans are hard wired to respond to music so it’s a great way to either calm or energize yourself. Christmas songs are only around for a few weeks so enjoy. Yes, and nothing says that it must be holiday music. If you a fa-la-la-la-ed out, listen to something non-seasonal.
Ditch the camera
When we are focused on trying to capture the holiday magic with photos and video we can miss participating in the experience. Instead try taking a picture in your mind. Memories are imprinted in our brain when we take enough time to lock in the sensory and emotional experience. So pause every so often and take it all in.
Find your inner child
If you have a lot of Christmases under your belt, it’s natural to have lost a little of the wonder and delight of the season. Children are our best guides for showing us how to see the season with fresh eyes. Whether its grandkids or little ones you see in the mall, watch their reaction to the simple things. You can also tap into your memories of holidays as a child. What did you love the most? What stands out in your mind? Revisit those things this year and share them with others.
Have a cup of cheer
Whether it’s a cup of hot chocolate¸ a peppermint latte or a spicy chai tea, drinking a beverage provides a great mindfulness break. Slow down and have a sensory experience. Feel the weight of the cup in your hands, inhale the aroma, feel the warmth travel all the way down your throat. Even pausing to pay attention in this way for the first few sips brings you fully into the moment.
Yup the season will come and go faster than you realize.
The decorations will get packed away, the lights will come down, Santa will head back north. This year give yourself the gift of being present to everything the holidays have to offer.