Can you believe the holidays are right around the corner? Because we know this time of year can induce its fair share of stress, chaos, and grief, this month’s blog is focused on helping you tune out the pressure and perfectionism that masks the magic of the season.
No matter how old you are, we promise there is joy and wonder to be found during the holidays. Sometimes, we just need a reminder to tap into the meaning of the season!
Be proactive about cultivating gratitude.
Gratitude is a wonderful antidote to stress because it grounds you in the present. Being intentional about cultivating gratitude is one of the best things you can do for your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Writing a daily list is a simple way to start or end the day on a peaceful and contented note. Reflecting on your blessings at a winter altar is also a powerful way to increase those feelings of holiday joy. In fact, by taking the time to remind yourself of all the miracles in your own life (both big and small), you may find that life feels even more magical than it did when you were a child.
Be mindful of where your energy goes.
While a grateful heart is what the holidays are all about, social media sets us for comparison. Protect your peace by setting limits on your social media usage during this season, or perhaps taking a break entirely. Instead, nourish your mind with the things that bring you real joy during this time of year - perhaps your favorite holiday album, a classic movie, or taking a trip down memory lane with scrapbooks from holidays past.
It’s also never too late to “reframe” those tasks or traditions that drain you. For instance, if you dread baking during this time of year, give yourself permission to simply get cookies from the store without feeling guilty. If you’re feeling overscheduled, reflect on those events that are most important to you - saying “no thank you” to some frees you up to be more present and refreshed when it matters most.
Make a “wish list.”
Not that kind of wish list! While our culture tends to focus on excess during this time of year, making a wish list of experiences or moments is a beautiful way to slow down and enjoy the wonder of the season before it passes you by. This is a great exercise to do either on your own or as a family. When you shift your focus from presents to presence, you’ll be amazed at how it relieves your stress and reminds you of what’s most important.
Nothing is too small or insignificant to note - whether it’s sipping a cup of hot cocoa, curling up with your pet in front of your tree, taking a scenic route to admire the lights, or wearing your favorite fuzzy socks. Researchers call those tiny moments that bring you joy glimmers, and they are known to be wonderful for your wellbeing. Be sure to hang up your wish list somewhere visible in your home as a reminder to carve out time for the simple pleasures that feed your soul.
Let go of perfection.
The holidays come with a giant heap of pressure, from sending out polished Christmas cards to making our holiday decorations look Instagram-perfect. Perfectionism can be incredibly persistent during this time of year, and it isn’t fun for anyone.
Taking a break from social media and cultivating gratitude can both help release the stress of “the perfect holiday season.” When you start to lose sight of what this time of year is really about, take a step back and reflect on your most cherished holiday memories. Chances are, you’ll recall moments of love, quality time, peace, and connection - not the shiniest gift you ever received, or the most elaborate holiday table. Let those memories guide you to focus on what matters most and let go of the rest for a perfectly imperfect holiday.
Honor your grief.
If you’ve ever lost someone you love, then you know that grief is far from linear: It comes in waves, and the holidays tend to be a tsunami. The attribute of grace is more important than ever during this time. If you are the one grieving, treat yourself with compassion. If you’re dealing with someone grieving, be extra supportive and cut them slack.
A grounding mantra during the holidays is, “My grief is real because my love is real.” You can learn more about tips for finding grace in the midst of grief on our blog.
Give back to the community.
Helping others has a magical way of putting life into perspective and getting us into the holiday spirit. Plus, you’ll also enrich another life in ways you may not even imagine. Research shows that giving back benefits the giver in so many ways, which shows the power of “acting yourself into feeling.”
You can apply this wisdom in a number of ways - for instance, putting on a festive sweater when you’re feeling less-than-cheerful, or singing a feel-good holiday tune when your spirits are low. It’s amazing how positive feelings can follow the smallest of actions.
For a list of ways to lift up our Hoboken neighbors in need, check out our blog.
Take really exquisite care of yourself.
Yes, we said exquisite! Because the holidays really are a time of increased feeling (for both better and for worse), it’s more important than ever to practice self-care so that you don’t pour from an empty cup.
At HHA, we offer holistic healing in many forms, and encourage you to find what brings a sense of comfort, whether that’s Reiki, counseling, acupuncture, or something else. Bach Flower remedies provide a gentle form of support for the complex mix of emotions that tend to arise during the holiday season.
Here’s to a magical holiday season full of the things that matter most: love, peace, and joy!
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.