Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah (or both, like we do) Happy Holidays! I hope you are enjoying being in the moment and experiencing the best of this time of year. Whatever your plans, most of us find this a time to remember and connect with people we love. As enjoyable as that can be, it can also start to feel overwhelming when there’s so much more on our plate than usual. Here’s where taking good care of you is super-important.
With the holiday season in full swing, I’d like to share a few ideas for those times when things start to get hectic. I’ve used them all at one time or another – they are part of my toolkit for when life is feeling a bit too busy.
- Really, remember to breathe. This sounds simple but it isn’t always. One of the first things that happen when we are tense is that our breath becomes shallower, and more rapid. Our muscles tense up. Deep breathing is a serious antidote to stress. Taking time for a few deep breaths can slow down your heart rate, help your muscles relax and help you feel more calm and centered.
- Take time out. Bundle up and go for a walk around the neighborhood, watch a movie with your kids or your spouse, or curl up with a good book for a while. This may seem counter-intuitive when we feel we have so much to do, but taking a break will reduce your sense of overwhelm and help you return feeling fresh for the task at hand.
- Let go of perfect. A favorite mentor taught me this: Done is better than perfect. (Let that sink in.) It’s one of my mantras. It can be yours, too.
- Ask for help. And don’t be shy! If you’re having people over, ask guests to bring a dessert or appetizer. Have your house cleaned. Delegate last-minute trips to the store to your spouse or teenager. Buy last minute gifts that come pre-wrapped for the holidays, or at shops that offer complimentary gift wrap.
- Give the gift of experiences. Research in positive psychology shows that gifts of experiences, rather than things, have more power to influence happiness. This is because experiences tend to carry more meaning over time – we can look forward to them, enjoy the actual time spent, and enjoy them again through our memories. Tickets to a special game, a concert, or the gift of a spa or dinner experience are examples and can be more enriching for both recipient and
- Now is not the time to let go of your healthy habits! You do get to splurge so enjoy the festivities, and do your best to keep the basics in place – a healthy eating plan, regular exercise, adequate sleep. Your body and mind will thank you for it and you will go through the holidays feeling strong and energized.
- Look for the meaning. I saved this for last but I think it may be the most important. The reason is that finding the meaning in our lives and what we do helps us to keep things in perspective. The holiday season may mean different things, depending on who we are and where we are in our life. When I was in my twenties, I loved dressing up and attending holiday occasions. When my son was small, there was nothing better than watching “A Christmas Story,” and the fun of Santa’s visit and Christmas morning. (He eventually figured out that there was something fishy about Santa and Mommy using the same wrapping paper……) These days, it’s totally about family, dear friends and colleagues, special persons I encounter in my daily rounds throughout the year – those people I cherish. It’s a time to reflect on what’s most important, and those things I might sometimes take for granted. That’s what helps me keep the season in perspective. When I do that, some of the stress seems to automatically fall away. Details are less important.
Whatever the holiday season is for you, I hope you take some time to pause and reflect on what’s most important to you. Knowing that, you’re bound to have your priorities in the right place.