Many of us look forward to celebrating the holidays with our friends and family; but probably just as many of us also approach this season with some level of anxiety.
In addition to the fun of gift-giving, enjoying special holiday foods, and reuniting with friends and family, there’s the stress of gift-giving, preparing holiday foods, and reuniting with family and friends! I offer five steps to help you “embrace the holidays” with grace.
1) First and foremost, treat yourself with gentleness. Understand that the holidays can be a challenge for all of us. We’re barraged by advertising telling us that “’tis the season to be jolly” and that the more we buy and do, the happier we’ll be. This holiday season, be realistic about your physical and emotional limits and gently protect your time and energy. Be kind to yourself and you’ll have more of that precious gift to share with those you love!
2) Learn to let go. Let go of expectations of yourself and others. And let go of anger and guilt. If you need rest or a moment alone, then take it. Give yourself permission to skip certain events all together if they are too stressful for you. The quality of time shared with others will be greatly enhanced if you are rested and calm.
3) Stay in the present moment. Most of us spend a great deal of time attending to the thoughts in our minds rather than to our direct experience. Thoughts about past or future experiences can distract us from our actual life experience. Right now, gently bring your attention into this moment. Feel the solid ground beneath your feet or the cool wind on your face. The present moment is the door to your creativity and healing. Embrace it!
4) Breathe. With each in-breath, feel a calm strength within you and with each out-breath, let go of any fear, tension or worry you may be feeling. Performing these deep-cleansing breaths for a few minutes each day can have an enormously rejuvenating effect upon your body and soul.
5) Exercise. If you are able — get up and get moving. A good brisk walk can help reduce anxiety, depression and insomnia. The endorphins released in aerobic exercise are the body’s own natural anti-depressants. Not only does exercise lift our spirits, it boosts our immune system as well.
(This article was first published by the Kaplan Center in December 2007.)Print this page