When the holidays approach, the first thing that comes to the minds of many is stress! This is often due to the expectations we put on ourselves and others. We want everything to be perfect, so we look for the ultimate gift, tree, gatherings, and service. We run around like mad, then get drained and depleted. It’s no wonder so many dread, or even resent, the holiday season.
As the weeks build up to the big day of celebration, our stress heightens. We have to contend with the chaotic crush of holiday and new year’s travel, as well as social gatherings that can bring anxiety. All the beautiful music, lights, and festivities fade into the background as our to-do lists and stress levels take center stage.
In truth, however, this time of year can be magical, rejuvenating, fulfilling, and joyful. We don’t have to lose our minds, get ourselves into debt, or be exhausted to the bone. Instead, it is all about balance, perspective, and a few key holiday practices that can help us maintain peace of mind.
Create an “I Like” Balance Sheet
This is a list of what you would “like” to do, not what you feel you “have” to do. In one column, make a list of the people you want to gift, and the activities you would really like to do. In another column, write down the dates you would like to complete them by. Next, go through your list and cross out the things that are not truly essential. This does two important things for you: first, it helps you get in touch with what’s most important to you for the holiday season; and second, it will help you set a plan in motion that’s based on a realistic time-table. As the holidays get closer, cross out the tasks and activities you complete. This will give you a sense of calm and control.
Disconnect from the Chaos
Sidestep the typical holiday chaos with the following thoughts and tips:
1. Do your shopping online or at times when the stores aren’t so crowded.
2. When you drive somewhere, take deep breaths and allow yourself to feel okay if you’re stuck in traffic or running late.
3. If you are hosting a gathering, know that more is not always better. Instead, create dishes or decorations that will not make you feel so stressed-out or put you in a state of frenzy trying to complete them.
And finally, always try and keep the essence of the holidays in mind. This is a time of love, giving, joy, and peace. Write these four words everywhere. Put them on your desk, refrigerator, or bathroom mirror. Consider adding images next to each one, like a nature photograph or two people hugging. Each time you look at the words or images, it will send messages to your brain about the true spirit of this magical season and help you disengage from all the noise and stress.
Five Minutes of “Me Time”
This kind of “me time” is not about going online or heading to the mall but rather connecting to your inner-self. This is a time to clear your mind by engaging in silence through meditation or by simply taking some deep breaths. Slowly, your mind will become less anxious. Also, you could try a short walk, a little dancing, or engaging in your creative outlet of choice for your quick “me time” session, any of which can help you achieve a more peaceful state of being.
Do this as often as you can each day, in these simple five-minute increments. It will anchor you, and help you become more focused and less stressed.
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As we engage in these practices, the holidays become “holy days,” and we can better experience this season in the true essence of which it was intended. Whether alone or with family and friends, we can create more balance and enjoy a less hectic pace, making this time of year one for love, sharing, joy, and peace.
~Post by Mitra Rahbar–an Iranian-born spiritual teacher, healer, guide, and singer/songstress. She is the author of Miraculous Silence: A Journey of Illumination and Healing Through Prayer, published by Penguin Random House. Mitra currently resides in Southern California.
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