It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or maybe it isn’t, eh? Maybe it is just downright stressful.
For some, the holiday season can bring big challenges. We skip our regular yoga practice trying to balance other commitments. We face difficult family situations, and we may be financially struggling to keep up. Combine this with fewer hours of sunlight and the weather occasionally keeping us inside, and it can be a recipe for feeling unsatisfied.
Motherhood can add to the stress.
There is so much pressure to have the “perfect” family, shower our children in expensive presents, and send out that perfect holiday photo on our Christmas card. I know the pressures of the holidays can make me a stressed mama, and I start to lose my mindfulness pretty quickly.
Here are a few ways we can maintain our mindfulness this holiday season—benefiting ourselves and our little ones:
Make time for movement.
When I am busy, the first thing that gets knocked off my plate is movement. Maybe it is juggling family schedules, our partners working late, or even too much wine at a holiday party the night before, that messes with that early morning yoga plan.
Yoga, exercise and movement are thrown to the wayside. But when movement goes, our mindfulness and sense of calm goes away with it. More than any new toy or electronics this season, our children want us, as our best selves. Exercise is a great way to take care of ourselves—thereby, helping us stay present for our little ones.
Sure, we might not make it to our mats every day of the week as our schedules get hectic, but we can set small goals for movement—even ones that simply mean getting bundled up and going outside for a quick walk.
Breathe before you eat.
I have been known to grab a holiday cookie for breakfast, another few before lunch and then after dinner, grab another because—well, dessert!
Since I have already eaten all that junk, I tell myself that I will do better tomorrow, and I continue to eat mindlessly! This year I am pledging to take three deep breaths before I eat the holiday fare. Does this mean I won’t eat treats? No way! I can’t wait to whip up some vegan chocolate peanut butter pie! But taking a few breaths before indulging will help me figure out if I am actually hungry and if I really want a cookie. It will help me determine how I feel physically, in the moment.
Mindful eating. If I choose to eat it, I am then eating it consciously and happily—rather then feeling snappy, bloated and grouchy from too many sweets. I can feel my best and be more present.
Start your own traditions. (and lose the ones you don’t like!)
It’s nice to step back and think about which rituals actually make us happy and what actually makes our families happy. What is meaningful to pass down to our children? What can we lose and feel lighter from getting rid of?
I can not imagine a place that I would like to be less during the Christmas rush, than in a long line in a shopping mall to take a picture with a Santa. Knowing how well toddlers wait in lines and crowds, I am happy to let go of that one! More pictures of my son in the snow, enjoying himself? Yes, that sounds more like it!
Maybe we don’t really enjoy traveling for the holidays, so we decide to just stay home! Let’s let ourselves off the hook this year and stay put! Or maybe we hate the idea of chopping down a tree, and opt for a more creative display that is more meaningful to our families. Perhaps we hold a Solstice celebration at our houses, even if we did not celebrate the Solstice as a children.
This year I hope for more caroling and music—more lights, more hot cocoa—and less pressure to have those commercial or “picture perfect” moments. By cutting out the traditions that do not add joy, we can remove those layers of stress that can bog us down this time of year.
Here’s to a more mindful holiday season, mamas!
Author: Logan Kinney
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/sunlight cardigan