So, here we go, the holiday season is fully underway. Do you love it? Or are you struggling to breathe as you look at the calendar ahead? Is each block of your calendar full, or are there blank squares that encourage rest? Are you energized or depleted by the thought? My blocks are pretty full, but I did plan a few blocks of time for space. I am guarding those spaces because I know, for me, that when there is no space I start to feel a pressure in my chest and panic rising. Maybe you too?
So, let’s just take a breath.
I’ve jotted down some ideas for when the stress becomes distress, for when the to-do’s take away the joy, or for when we lose our focus on the entire point of this season.
- Release some expectations and to-do’s. Sometimes I think we put more on ourselves than anyone else expects of us. At least I know that I do. Ask your people what is most precious to them about the holiday season- what food, activity or time is what they love the most. Their answers may surprise you. My kids? They love Christmas Eve breakfast in which I make a feast. Consider these answers as you decide what you can erase of your list.
- Leave some room to breathe. Look now at your calendar, before we get much further into December. Find those blocks of time- a quiet lunch, coffee, an afternoon that is unscheduled, or even a day. Block it off now, like an appointment, and use that time just to breathe. When that block of time comes, ask yourself what you really need. Maybe it will be quiet, maybe it will be a great time to spontaneously get together with a friend, or maybe try out a new recipe. Things just feel more restful when you have a choice, when you have the option to either do, or not do, depending on how you are feeling.
- Take a hike. Literally. Out in nature is nice, but so is a cozy main street (I love walking down Main street when it is closed, is that weird?). There is something about moving our bodies that can settle our minds. Get out of the climate control, get in nature and just walk for a bit. Feel the sting of the cold on your cheeks. Feel the contrast of holding a hot drink in your hands. Feel your legs moving and your heart pumping. Feel how your skin tingles when you go back into the warmth.Give yourself time to think and unwind.
- Hold fast to your daily rituals. Whatever they are- your quiet time, that coffee you love, walking the dog, calling a friend, time at the gym, etc. These things we do for ourselves are often the first thing we take off when our schedule gets crowded, but they are the most important things. They keep us grounded, tethered so we don’t feel like we are slaves to our schedules.
And when the intensity of family gatherings gets to be too much for whatever reason? Pray. Breathe. Leave the room. Journal. Watch a Christmas movie. Listen to music. Step outside. Read fiction.
One of the things I am focusing on this season is an Advent study during my quiet time. I know from past experience this one thing is what I need most to keep myself grounded in the season.
So, let’s take a breath now and plan how we can also take a breath later.