How to Stay Centered During the Holidays
We’re now entering the holiday season, and while this is supposed to be a time of peace, joy, and togetherness, it also comes with many stresses that can throw our energy system out of balance. It’s no real surprise that a Healthline survey looked at holidays and found that over 60% of all respondents felt some stress during the holidays, and now seasonal worries have become even more prevalent with the ongoing pandemic, supply chain issues, and inflation.
The good news is that the holidays don’t have to get the best of us because when we take the proper actions to stay centered, we can find bliss and magic in all of the moments we experience.
Don’t overextend yourself
First, we have to be very conscious of how much we can take on during the holidays. If you are hosting others at your home or apartment, try to keep things simple. We often try to meet the expectations of having a picture-perfect experience with all of the fixings from décor to what’s on the table, and when this happens, we often lose our connection with the present moment.
Don’t be afraid to buy pre-made items, ask guests to bring a dish, or only focus on making a few recipes, because if all of your energy is in the kitchen, then you’re not able to make the most of your time with family, friends and loved ones. We often stress for countless hours over a meal that most of us will finish in about thirty minutes or less.
If you’re not hosting but rather planning on visiting relatives, remember that you can’t be everywhere and appease everyone. There can be so much pressure to see as many family members as possible during the holidays, leading to burnout and stress. It’s essential, to be honest with yourself and your loved ones who you can visit as there are many times during the year to get together.
Another area not to overextend ourselves in is gifting. While giving and receiving may be a ritual we have become accustomed to, it does not mean we have to break the bank. Talk to extended family members in advance and set gifting guidelines that meet everyone’s budget. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your children if the number of gifts might be a little light this year.
Have empathy and compassion
Next, make sure you put other people first during the holidays. Take time to imagine what other people are going through, the challenges they face, and seek ways to help them. When we share our kindness with others, it always comes back in return, so seeking ways to volunteer, supporting just causes, and helping our community will fill us with warmth and joy.
We can also use this time to show appreciation to family, friends, and co-workers. Consider making a list of your most cherished personal connections, those you have helped you over the past year, either personally or professionally. Then, each day, write a simple note to one or a few people on your list extending gratitude for their contributions to your success.
Aside from our immediate network, we can also express empathy and compassion for everyone we encounter as we navigate the holidays. TSA agents, customer service reps, retail associates, restaurant workers, and other professionals in the hospitality space can be on the receiving end of our stress and frustration, which is not acceptable behavior.
Navigate this season with grace, calm, and kindness. When we make a conscious effort to look others in the eye and stay please, or thank you, it can make all of the difference. Remember that we can’t control what happens in life, like flight delays, out-of-stock products, or late deliveries, but we can control how we respond to these situations. Accept what you cannot change, embrace reality, and find the opportunity in every moment by not labeling life’s events as either good or bad.
Third, take time to practice forgiveness to release negative thoughts or emotions as we enter the holidays. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made in the past, whether at work, our in your personal life. To help realize any guilt, shame, or uneasiness about your actions, write down the mistake, what you learn from it, and then commit not to do it again.
We can also use this time to forgive loved ones, as many will be visiting with family members. We all hold on to traumatic life experiences, both big and small, that can unconsciously surface when getting together, causing emotional distress. Remember what Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Forgiveness does not mean you have to condone how someone may have wronged you in the past, but it does mean you are ready to release it and move on. Take inventory of the people you will be in contact with during the holidays and potential trigger points. Then, if you feel destructive energy, do your best not to hold onto it, but rather let it pass through you and remove yourself from the situation if needed.
Aside from family, we can also forgive those who don’t share our belief systems. We spend so much time judging other people, acting self-righteous, and building walls around ourselves that create division. Remember that we all have unique backgrounds and see the world through filtered lenses and that there is more that unites us than should ever divide us.
Nourish your energy system
Finally, nourish your energy system. If you feel exhausted from hosting, travel or family, take the time to rechange and create balance. You can start your day with a quick meditation, read an uplifting book, or even write in a gratitude journal before you go to bed. Keep your phone off when possible, don’t check email and limit time on social media to ensure your focus remains on the present moment.
Eating healthy foods can also help keep our energy system in balance. The holidays are sometimes associated with indulgence, but we can eat more responsibly by setting nutritional goals before the festivities. Remember that an excess of unhealthy fats and sugars leads to headaches, stress, and obesity, among many other health problems.
Another way to nourish our energy system is through exercise. Working out does not mean you have to engage in high-intensity training but rather thoughtful routines that will help you feel good from the inside out. Try cardio for twenty minutes three days a week, take long walks with loved ones, and incorporate some light strength training when you feel some stress surfacing that needs to be released.
When we set nutrition and exercise goals going into the holidays, we don’t come out of the season playing catchup to lose unwanted weight and low energy that makes us feel bogged down as we enter the new year. The choice is yours, the reward of discipline or the pain of regret. All in all, it’s never a good feeling when we choose to self-sabotage over our well-being.
We can all experience more peace and joy during the holidays because most of the stresses we experience are self-induced. Do what’s right for you, create balance, and practice actions to help stay centered as you navigate the season.