The holiday season, often heralded as a time of joy and celebration, can quickly become a frenzy of activities and expectations. In the midst of the chaos, we find ourselves caught up in the pursuit of “doing” rather than simply “being.” Even though there are so many people you want to see, give gifts, and fun traditions to honor, what if you could create a stress-free holiday season? Let’s explore how shifting our focus can lead to a more relaxed and fulfilling holiday experience.
The Pressure to Do
Every year, the pressure to create the perfect holiday experience looms large. From elaborate decorations to extravagant feasts and a calendar bursting with events, the list seems endless. Then there’s the cards or letters; you know you’ve had the photos taken, the cards made and now you just can’t waste the money, tradition. As I’ve grown through the years and had many a stress-filled holiday season. As I’ve navigated through many holiday seasons, I’ve come to realize that this pursuit of perfection can be a significant source of stress.
Research consistently shows that the societal expectations surrounding the holidays contribute to increased stress levels. The pressure to meet these expectations often leads to burnout and a diminished sense of joy. It’s time to challenge the notion that a perfect holiday requires an exhaustive checklist of activities.
My goal this year, especially after the significant stress of divorce and moving during the 2022 holiday season, I’m committed to create a stress-free holiday season.
The Art of Being
So, what exactly does it mean to “be” during the holidays? It’s about finding the beauty in simplicity and fully immersing ourselves in the present moment. Instead of frantically ticking off tasks, it’s about savoring the experiences that bring genuine happiness.
In my own journey, I’ve discovered that the art of being is rooted in mindfulness. It’s about cultivating a sense of awareness and appreciating the richness of each moment. Mindfulness doesn’t mean abandoning traditions; rather, it encourages us to engage in them with a renewed sense of presence. Perhaps it’s actually pausing for a few minutes to bask in the lights or the smell of Christmas scents. Perhaps it’s a moment to stop and listen to some beautiful Christmas music. In the book Hardwiring Happiness, author Rick Hanson, PhD, describes two patterns that happen in our brain with memories. Happy memories seem to slip away like you’re cooking on Teflon – they don’t stick. Bad memories seem to stick like Velcro!! Think about that in reference to past holiday seasons. Do you have some Velcro-type memories with family or friends that you’d like to swap for joyful memories? Hanson recommends that we use all our senses to truly embrace the moment. Be mindful. Milk those happy moments and create Velcro memories in our minds.
To make the shift from doing to being, consider incorporating mindful practices into your holiday routine:
Morning Meditation: I choose to meditate each morning to create or rehearse my day. I can imagine the positive feelings, the positive interactions, and feel them with my senses. Right then, in meditation, I’m creating the opportunity for “hardwiring the happiness” and being joyful!
Mindful Breathing: Take a few moments each day for intentional deep breaths. It’s a simple yet powerful way to center yourself amid the holiday chaos.
Gratitude Journaling: As I mentioned in my blog about gratitude, keeping a journal to document moments of gratitude throughout the day and season can indeed, hardwire those moments of happiness. It serves as a reminder of the positive aspects of the day and the holiday season at large!
Evening meditation: Evening meditation is a way for me to BE with the events of the day and really infuse the day’s events with positive emotion. I love Brooke Snow’s Evening Gratitude on her Co-Create App.
Digital Detox: Step away from screens to engage in face-to-face interactions and enjoy the festive atmosphere fully. A digital detox can do wonders for your mental well-being.
In the quest for a stress-free holiday, it’s essential to simplify traditions:
Prioritizing: Identify the traditions that bring you the most joy and focus on those. Let go of the unnecessary stressors that don’t contribute to the overall experience.
Saying No: Understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to decline invitations or requests that add unnecessary pressure. Your well-being should be a priority. Remember that NO is a complete sentence.
Connecting with Loved Ones
Quality time with loved ones lies at the heart of a fulfilling holiday season:
Quality over Quantity: Prioritize quality interactions instead of racing from one event to another. Meaningful connections matter more than a packed schedule. When we are run ragged, sleep deprived from putting just one more thing into our schedule, we are left “off-balance” and soon can become “unwell.” The fallout for everyone in our lives is huge. Thus, plan and schedule what gatherings will bring the most joy and drop the rest.
Unplanned Moments: Embrace spontaneous, unplanned moments with family and friends. Some of the most cherished memories arise when we allow ourselves to be fully present.
Cultivating Mindfulness in Gift-Giving
Gift-giving can become a mindful and meaningful experience:
Thoughtful Gifts: Focus on gifts that carry sentimental value rather than pursuing quantity. Thoughtful gestures often leave a lasting impression.
Experiences Over Things: It seems that we all have too much stuff these days! I know that Marie Kondo forever changed me, and I only purchase things that bring incredible joy. I want my gift-giving to create the same experience. Consider giving the gift of experiences—creating memories that will be cherished long after material gifts lose their luster.
As we approach the holiday season, let’s challenge the notion that more is always better. By embracing the art of being, we can find peace amid the chaos and create a holiday experience that resonates on a deeper level. Remember, it’s not about the number of tasks accomplished but the quality of moments shared.