The link between holidays and holy days has become fragile in our society. The good news is that you can bypass the stress that mounts for many during this season to fashion your own holiday spirit with gratitude, mindfulness, and simplicity.
In reality, the holidays are a mixed bag. Peak moments of joy, loving connection, celebration transformation; and intense moments where family drama may break out, agendas could be mixed up, bills may become overwhelming, disappointment and burnout are all too common themes.
As 2021 comes to a close, give yourself space to reflect on what has transpired – what do you want to take with you and what do you want to leave behind? Winter invites us to go inward and take care. Whether you are celebrating and spending time with friends/family or taking time to pause and breathe – try to nurture yourself and others. Here are some times to add on a little more peace when needed during the holidays.
7 Ways to Keep Peace during The Holidays
ON THE SPIRIT SIDE…
Raise your appreciation quotient when you gather with friends, family (and even strangers!). Take the time to listen, be present, and share love. Where attention goes, energy flows, so put your focus towards the good!
Expectations lead to disappointment. Whether you’re meeting up with friends or family, be sure you’re going in with an open heart and mind with no expectations other than sharing loving kindness. People are not perfect and someone is bound to act out, but that doesn’t mean that you need to engage, point the finger, or get upset. Use this time as a catapult toward personal growth, where you can breathe through anything and know that ‘this too shall pass’.
If you plan to exchange gifts this December, ask the people in the room to indulge a small request: start by saying, “I am thankful for [gift recipient’s name] because …” and give a genuine, heartfelt compliment before offering your gift. Then, after they receive their compliment and their material gift (optional!) have the gift recipient pick someone else and repeat until all parties have received a compliment or kind word. Notice how this shifts the energy in the room, allowing a sacred moment of appreciation for each person, with a chain reaction of compassion.
ON THE PHYSICAL SIDE...
A feasting spirit is ever-present during end-of-year celebrations, but that doesn’t mean you have to overeat to enjoy the holidays. Eating with mindfulness, slowing the pace to savor your food, and being mindful of portion size, alcohol and other calorie-heavy beverage consumption are just a few ways you can avoid feeling bloated and “stuffed” after meals with loved ones. Hara hachi bu is a Japanese saying meaning “Eat until you're 80% full.” It originated in the city of Okinawa, a “blue zone” where there is one of the highest life expectancies in the world. It’s important to note, they have one of the lowest rates of illness from heart disease, cancer, and stroke, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and people also age very well. If you eat till you’re 80% full then you’ll give your stomach enough time to signal your brain that you’ve had enough, and you’re more likely to avoid overeating.
How many years in a row have we bought more than we needed, for ourselves and others, or even more than we could afford? Instead of being a passive observer of these old patterns, take control of giving a positive direction to your holiday habits. A few suggestions for how to get a healthy dose of “Helper’s High” instead of buyer’s remorse: 1) Give to people in need (the homeless, new moms, mutual aid groups in your neighborhood, etc.); 2) Purge your closet—give to a coat drive or local charity, or if you live in a big apartment building, offer things you no longer need to your neighbors; 3) Volunteer on or around a major holiday (invite friends and family to join you for an amplified happiness boost). There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself and others to gifts, but paying it forward is also its own unique reward.
ON THE EMOTIONAL SIDE...
If a certain holiday tradition is too raw or painful after the loss of a family member, let people know. If traveling for the holidays is too expensive or burdensome, say no. This is a season of giving but you can not give what you do not have. To enjoy the season to its fullest, you will have to say no to certain social obligations. Be open about your limits and say no to events and gatherings that steal joy and do not otherwise enhance your life.
Setting boundaries is one of the best ways to ensure self-care. Stay true to what you want for yourself, what you have energy for, and what your triggers are signaling you. A trigger is usually a person, event, or experience that sets off an emotional reaction. If something is bothering you longer than normal, take the time to find the source of the trigger and process it on your own time. Don’t feed into it and get angry, frustrated, annoyed, sad, or disappointed. This may mean you take a step away to take a breather to understand what’s fundamentally going on. Come back to it when the energy has cleared, express your boundaries with integrity, and move forward.
BONUS: Check out Herbs + Quick Tips for Empaths & Highly Sensitive People on our blog.
Happy Holidays, everyone! We are grateful for you! Xx Anima Mundi