The holiday season is both a time of celebration and, for many, significant stress. With meals to prepare, presents to buy, and family dynamics to navigate, the holidays can find you caught in a balance between focusing on what matters most and checking off that lengthy to-do list. This overload of stress during an otherwise merry time can really impact your mindset and ability to fully enjoy the season. Here are a few simple tips to be present, joyful, and peaceful despite the stress around you.
Steal Moments of Relaxation. It’s okay to say no and avoid hyper-scheduling. Pay attention to your mind and body telling you to step back. Build breaks into your schedule before, during, and after your gatherings. Take moments to be alone while taking walks, exercising, reading, or meditation. If you don’t feel like you have more than a few minutes, simply pause and take a few deep breaths. Focus on how it expands your back and chest. The simple act of reconnecting with your breath can ignite presence and make you feel less stressed in a short amount of time.
Embrace your senses. Allow yourself to indulge in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the season. Welcome all the sensory details – whether it’s the scent of treats baking in the oven or the melody of carolers or the texture of the ornaments you’re hanging – and try to capture the feeling of childlike wonder this season can bring. Allowing yourself to focus on a single sense at a time will help you anchor yourself in the present and fully enjoy the moment you’re in.
Focus on love. Choose to focus on quality time with your loved ones. Actively listen without the distraction of your smartphone, TV, or social media. Show genuine interest. Your undivided attention is one unique gift no one else can give. Through truly listening we shift our focus outside of ourselves and our needs, and instead serve as a witness to the voice of others. Not only does this activity spur presence, but it also makes the person you’re speaking to feel loved and important.
Frantic isn’t festive. The words that get tossed around this time of year – joy, peace, Thanksgiving – will only have meaning if you fill them with meaning. It all happens at the level of intention and attention. Focusing on being present will take time and effort, but as you do so, you will get more enjoyment from the season and understand why it’s referred to as “the most wonderful time of the year”.