Finding Zen During the Christmas Season

Christmas, and the season leading up to it, can be as daunting as it is beautiful for some. There is something that almost changes the air we breathe around Christmas. A feeling in our bones. The closeness and connection we feel with Spirit, God or the Universe.  The music, the snow.  And the list goes on.  It can be a magical time of year.


 Then there is the flip side of the coin.  And all of the feelings are neither right or wrong.

The stress associated with spending and expectations around what should be can cause even the merriest people to feel blue. Christmas can bring up emotional stuff still lingering around. Why is that? Visions of sugar plums, glitter all things beautiful, perfect families gathering to carve the turkey. All of those images of loveliness can conjure up expectations of what should be, what might be, what wasn't and what we long for. The grief. The loss. The hopes, dreams and wishes. All seem to converge as though a point of light through a magnify glass.

The following are some tips to consider when navigating through the season. Things to practice to help bring some zen and mindfulness to your experience no matter what side of the coin you experience. Some of them are from articles I have read but also from my own experience and wisdom.

 

  1. Manage your expectations.  Keep in mind that everyone is going through their own emotions and experience of Christmas.  This time of year represents something different to everyone.  Hold a realistic view that things may not be 'perfect' or people may not be, say or do the things you wish they would.  Try not to take things personally.  Create space for others to have their experience and step away when things become overwhelming.   Step away, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are only responsible for your own feelings.  We are all perfectly imperfect.  Dynamics with family and friends don't necessarily change because its Christmas so manage your expectations around that so you don't feel hurt. 

  2. Take moments of mindfulness.   Admist the busyness of the season, practice the mindful pause. Take conscious moments of mindful stopping and being without judgement.  I will often just stop in the middle of something and bring my awareness to the present moment, in my body and with my breath.  These moments can happen when you are cooking Christmas dinner for example.  Stop, close your eyes and tune into your breath and body.  Mindfully pay attention.

  3. Set boundaries and say no.  The holiday season is a good time to practice boundary setting.  There may be pressure to do and plan different things for friends or family.  Be cognizant of your own energy and your need to be in silence.  You are not missing out...you are going within.  

  4. Connect with nature.  Nature is a beautiful healer.  It is grounding and revitalizing. Carve out some time to go walking in the forest or even around the block.  Make a walk a part of your Christmas day routine.  Go walk around the block and take in the Christmas lights.  Go into the forest for a snowshoe.  If you are an "earther" take the plunge outside for a few minutes in your barefeet!  Your nervous system will thank you. 

  5. Manage your depression and anxiety.  Christmas season can ampllify feelings of anxiety or depression.  Its very important to establish a self care routine during this time if  you find an increase in those feelings.  Think ahead of how you will manage things and make a plan.  Take time out away from people if you need to.  It is ok to put yourself first if you need to.   Plan to take regular breaks from activity to look after yourself.  Read a book.  Journal.  Take a hot bath.  Go to Starbucks and sip a decatant hot chocolate.

  6. Don't over spend.   Be mindful of the commercialism at Christmas and decide to work within your budget.  Say no to gift giving if it means it is creating debt and stress for you.  There are other creative ways to share.  Bake some cookies.  Plan some time with a family member or friend.  Cook someone dinner.  

  7. Be with people who adore you for who you are.  The season can amplify emotions.  Choose to be with people who give you energy and not drain it.  Be with people who are easy to be with and celebrate the things that are important. 

    8.  Practice Gratitudes.  the practice of gratitude shifts the energy and focus.  It brings you to the present moment of what is important.  Purchase yourself a lovely journal and start a daily gratitude journal practice or decorate a jar to place gratitudes in.  Keep it simple.  Sometimes our breath is enough to be grateful for. 

Wishing you wellness of mind, body and spirit during the holidays and always. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for whatever you hang onto going into the new year. 

With much love and gratitude for your continued support! 

Maureen