Take a Deep Breath

Last week, I had a chat with a good friend. During our conversation, when we found ourselves talking about the Christmas season I began to hear panic in her voice. She spoke faster and faster as she discussed the cooking and baking and family gatherings and holiday-party-attending and gift buying issues. I absolutely love this season, but goodness it can be stressful!!

Even if you don't celebrate the holiday, you can hopefully relate to this post...to the sheer craziness that the month of December can evoke. So, how can we enjoy this "most wonderful time of the year" with less stress, less emotional turmoil and more joy, peace and...calm?

Lets take a look at 2 things, pressures and expectations. These can result from internal thoughts and/or external influences. Sometimes, we're truly our own worst enemies. We expect ourselves to: decorate like Martha Stewart, make 20 different holiday dishes (without burning any of them), find the perfect gifts, and the list goes on and on.

You can't do it all. Or maybe you can, but there's a good chance that your body and mind are going to feel the feel the impact. Look at your to-do list and prioritize. What's the cake and what's the icing...so to speak.

If you feel over scheduled with holiday events, remember that your own health and sanity is paramount. Everyone is extremely busy and people will understand. If you can, drop in and stay for a short while, or alternatively, thank them for their kind invitation but decline and offer to get together in the New Year when life slows down. In short, stretching yourself thin and stressing yourself out will not benefit you nor the people around you. Ask for help when needed and learn to say no when necessary.This is not an easy thing to do and something that I am continuing to work on myself.

Another important consideration is your own health and well-being. With life in fast-forward mode, we can find ourselves out of sync with regular routines that keep us level. Sleeping, eating, meditating and exercising patterns change quickly and our bodies and minds struggle to adjust. This also applies to other members of our family, such as our children and spouse...and even the pets! As much as possible, attempt to keep up a normal 'routine'. Try your hardest to keep yourself balanced and practice being kind to yourself. Really. It matters.

Lastly, I think that at some level we begin to believe that the holiday season is one that should resemble the picturesque scene on the front of boxed cards. That it should have happy families, perfect gifts, smiling children and incredible food. It is difficult to match this level of perfection...and is it even realistic for us to want to? As well, the unspoken expectation in those holiday songs, stories, movies etc. that the holidays are a time of togetherness and love can be heartbreaking to those who are experiencing loss, loneliness, and heartbreak. Having expectations for ourselves is a good thing....but searching for what is truly important for each of us is the most important thing. What the holiday means to me is most likely not what it means to you. We have different interests, beliefs and customs. But I ask you to go back to the source...is it religion, or family, or a sense of peace and good will? Try to focus on the true meaning of the season to you and your family, and look at the rest of it as window dressing....pretty decorations on a strongly rooted tree.

 Seasons Greetings and best wishes for health and happiness.

Moving you forward, WLS

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