Doesn’t it feel like time passes so quickly between Thanksgiving and the new year? Bustling days and weekends filled with (sometimes awkward) gatherings, shopping, baking, socializing and eating are so fun – yet also so busy. It is easy to lose sight of the season’s joy and the wonderful opportunity to connect with and do good for others when we are moving so quickly. You might pause to ask, “who is setting this pace? How can I carve out some single moments for self-care so that I may have the energy and mindset to keep up?”
Rushing through the season at a faster-than-feels-good pace brings stress and also means that we miss the present moment. For me, an intense focus on the destination of the holiday glosses over the daily joy along the way and the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the season. So before you start working on that lengthy seasonal to-do list, why not try some simple ideas that might help you to slow down the pace for yourself and impart a more mindful approach to the days ahead.
Maintain your routine: keep your regular workout schedule. Though sticking to routine can be difficult even when life is going well, prioritizing this during the holiday season will help you gain energy and promote mental health and positive thinking.
Go for a walk: take a 10-minute break from baking, decorating or cleaning indoors. Put on your coat and walk around the block, focusing on nature instead of your phone. That breath of fresh air will recharge you.
Take time to be with a friend or visiting relative: enjoy even small opportunities to connect with the people close to your heart.
Just breathe: one of the best ways to calm your body and mind anytime is to find 5 minutes to sit quietly. While you are in the office, or when you finally find a space in the mall parking lot, give yourself a simple timeout. Count your exhalations and notice the calm overtake your body. Focusing your breath is a well-known way to induce the relaxation response in the parasympathetic nervous system and to calm the stressors in the sympathetic nervous system. It might even make going into that mall scene a bit more relaxing!
Celebrate the season with song and music: most faith traditions have special concerts or prayer gatherings in anticipation of the holiday. These are wonderful opportunities to reflect with your community and take time for yourself.
Practice rituals or establish mindful traditions: if your faith tradition includes them, the lighting of candles during Christian Advent or the Jewish Festival of Lights, for example, is a reminder of the hope and love of the season.
Remember to smile: it will not only make your body feel calmer but, in the frenzy of the season, it’s a free gift to share with others. In his book, “Being Peace,” Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is the only moment.”
Adopt a mindful approach to holiday food: this means that you feel no guilt about passing up your cousin’s 12 kinds of holiday cookies! Or, if you do indulge, be kind to yourself and enjoy this fleeting moment in time!The opportunity to “live in the moment” and take a few minutes for yourself each day can be so elusive, but it will help to slow down the pace of the season, putting you back in the proverbial driver’s seat.
This post is from my column, Off the Mat, in the Belmont-Citizen Herald. The original link is here: