How To Survive The Holidays Without Losing Your Mind

David Goehring
David Goehring

This entire season can become a blur of obligation and stress from running yourself ragged both physically and emotionally. Despite it being “the most wonderful time of the year,” let’s face it, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, something else, or nothing at all, it’s hard to not get wrapped up in the holiday hype.

I encourage you to take a moment—right now would be perfect—to breathe deeply and set the tone for how you would like to experience the weeks ahead.

Effectively managing the fast pace of the modern lifestyle can be extremely stress provoking at any time of year, but the holidays elevate that stress to a stratospheric level, unless you put a plan in place. Think about the way you go through your daily activities. Do you allot plenty of time to get them all done? Do you do them with ease and pay attention to what you are doing? Or do you rush with clenched jaw and fists throughout the day, not noticing anything except what’s next on your to-do list, feeling totally stressed, and as though there is NEVER enough time?

What we are exploring here is the power of mindfulness: a clear moment-to-moment awareness of what is actually happening.

When you are constantly thinking about what’s next, you are robbed of THIS moment, and the magic of the season is lost.

Thanksgiving through New Year’s is an interesting time to explore your relationship with being present.

People adore the idea of this season because it represents gratitude for blessings and spending time with loved ones, but the reality of trying to cram it all in—and with joy no less—can be a very different experience.

There are food and toy drives to spread the “true meaning of the holidays,” but how often do these events become another obligation to fulfill rather than something that creates joy? From serving big meals to party hopping to shopping and potentially spending beyond your means, the “meaning” can get lost in the mayhem. How can you bring yourself back to the here and now and rock some present moment consciousness so you can rejoice more, react less, and actually be in the moment?
 
Take a deep breath, SLOW DOWN, and sink into some stillness and silence. You don’t need to have a dedicated meditation practice to reap benefits. Simply taking 3 to 5 deep, conscious breaths a few times a day is enough to interrupt racing thoughts and bring you back to center. 

Take this time to see all the activities of your day falling into place with ease and grace and feel gratitude for all that is right in your life right now. This practice creates an internal sacred space that can be the calm in the holiday storm and keep you connected to the true meaning of the season.

Make a commitment to truly enjoy being with your children as you bake cookies, decorate gingerbread houses, and unwrap presents. Allow their wonder and excitement to reignite your own. Let a car get in front of you in traffic simply because it might make the other person feel good. Smile at the weary sales clerk and understand he’s been working long hours and dealing with lots of people who are NOT practicing mindfulness!

Being mindful allows you to be present and awake in your life and can create the space for you to do all of these things and more. If you harness the power of your own intention, it is possible to actually enjoy these holiday weeks!

Years from now, most people won’t remember what “stuff” they got or gave, but they will remember a kind word, emotional generosity, and feelings of appreciation.

The best gift you can give this holiday season is YOUR presence in the present. TC mark

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