5 minute read

Health: Finding Peace During the Holidays

A Present Called Presence

Finding Peace During the Holidays

By Sue Burns

The holidays are here, with all the joy of the season…and what feels like more hustle and bustle than ever. Though we may be longing to feel and radiate the calm of “Silent Night,” the truth is, we’re more likely channeling the frenetic energy of “Run Rudolph Run” as we work, cook, bake, clean, shop, wrap, entertain, fall into bed exhausted, and wake up to repeat the cycle the next day. It’s not a bad thing! It’s what we do to make the holidays magical for those we love—a big part of what the holidays are all about. But it’s easy to forget that we need to stop and smell the cocoa too; to give ourselves time to refresh so we can keep bringing our unique presence to the season. Here are some ways to keep our inner tinsel from tangling:

Prioritize Your Well Being

It’s all about self-care; putting the proverbial oxygen mask on ourselves first makes us ready and able to take care of others. Make a list of the things that make you feel rested, energized and inspired, and the next time you feel harried, gift yourself the time to do one thing on the list. Whether it’s a session of yoga or exercise, window-shopping along cheerily decorated streets, a hot “cuppa” (insert coffee, tea, mulled cider or wine here), a conversation with a friend, or a Hallmark holiday movie, enjoying a little “me time” will do wonders to rejuvenate your body and mind.

Know Your Limits

Try to commit only to the events that will make you the happiest to attend. There are always more opportunities for socializing than we have time for—that’s one of the fun things about the holidays— but overdoing takes a toll on our physical and emotional energy. For functions you can’t opt out of, establish a timeframe for when you will arrive and depart. (Don’t forget to make your spouse or “plus one” aware of your plan!) You may end up having so much fun you decide to stay longer, but having some parameters in place can reduce anxiety and make mingling merrier.

Keep it Simple

If you’re hosting a gathering, remember to “KISS” (Keep it Simple, Santa)! Making timelines for preparation and cooking will help keep things relaxed and enjoyable for you and your company. “One thing at a time” is a great mantra to repeat out loud or in your head! The most important thing to remember? Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Have you noticed how everyone seems to congregate in the kitchen during a party? Giving guests a way to contribute will allow you to take a breath while adding more fun to the festivities.

Indulge with Moderation

Be kind to your stomach; the holidays are known as “the eating season” with good reason. Our favorite once-a-year goodies can be found wherever we go; we don’t want to miss out and we don’t have to! To avoid that sluggishness (and regret) that we experience after we’ve thrown caution to the wind at the dessert buffet, make a decision to practice the 80/20 rule of eating: consume 80% nutritious foods and the remaining 20% can be for indulgences. Creating plans for simple and satisfying meals (make enough for leftovers) at home can alleviate the stress of cooking healthy and prevent impulse junk snacking while you’re busy checking things off your to-do list.

Making Memories

Enjoy timeless family traditions and create new ones that emphasize making memories. Pull out Grandma’s sugar cookie recipe card (can you almost hear her voice as you hold it in your hand?) and bake away. Make new ornaments to hang alongside family heirlooms on the tree. Sing carols and watch holiday classics. Volunteer in the community. Start new gift-giving traditions focusing on handmade treasures and time together.

Remember Your Reasons

Whatever religion or spirituality is your guiding light, remember your reasons for the season. Write them on a card, post-it note or on your phone to keep at hand. When you need a break, take a deep breath and read your list to bring your head and heart back to center. The holidays are filled with special moments when you’ll find yourself thinking, “I’ll remember this forever.” When that happens: Stop to take in the scene. Look at the smiles on the faces you love. Listen to the conversation, the laughter, the music. Let it all wrap around you like the warmest of blankets and wind its way into your heart. These are the times to hold onto, to share, and to cherish. Happiest holidays!

Tips for Savoring the Holidays

• yoga or exercise

• window-shopping along cheerily decorated streets

• a hot “cuppa” coffee, tea, cocoa, or mulled cider

• a conversation with a friend

• Hallmark holiday movie

• a warm fireplace

• a heated blanket

• baking and decorating grandma's sugar cookies

• candy cane making

• singing Christmas carols with your friends

• delivering Lifestyle Magazine to a friend

• the fresh smell of pine from your Christmas tree (or favorite candle)

• spirits tasting