Navigating the holidays can be a complicated terrain for so many reasons.
Even without a pandemic and political and civil unrest, it’s not all joy and love and light for everyone. We, humans, are incredibly vulnerable—collectively in the midst of unprecedented challenges—on multiple levels.
There may not be a mythical character flying through the sky delivering shiny packages of elated happiness this holiday, but here are a few tips we can all lean into to engage a little more skillfully this season:
1. Own it and take responsibility.
If you have a fantasy of the perfect holiday, like the “just right” gift that magically appears, check that.
Let go of hoping reality is different than it is, wishing the world matched your vision, and that your beloveds will finally read your mind. Try on the idea that you have at least a part in creating the experiences you want. The only part we can truly claim is what our experience is and what we do with it.
2. Take care to give care.
Rest, move, hydrate, and nourish yourself. We often neglect our own basic self-care any time of the year, and with added stressors, it can be the first thing to go.
Like on an airplane, putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others nourishes our inner resources before attending to others. We cannot be a resource when we are not resourced. Be radical about this.
3. Meditation and mindfulness.
Practices that cultivate awareness, equanimity, and presence are the best gifts we can give ourselves and the world. The mind can go to a million places, but the body is always right here. Stop. Explore your five senses, return to the breath and this moment. Do it.
Indulge in an exploration of what annoys you. This self-inquiry and awareness will support the shift from unconscious reactivity to more proactive choice.
What are you doing, and why are you doing it?
5. Make a list; check it twice.
Before you consider making your wish list to share with others, start with some lists just for yourself. As a tool for clarity, write freely. Don’t worry about being naughty or nice. Consider sharing insights about yourself with a close friend, coach, or therapist.
>> Make a list of everything and everyone that “hooks” you.
>> What consistently aggravates or irritates you most this time of year?
>> Judge and blame (get dirty here).
Yes and No List
>> One piece of paper with a line down the middle.
>> Make a list of everything you are a “yes” to and…
>> Everything you are a “no” to.
6. Requests and agreements.
Dare to ask for what you want and need. Lean into your closest relationships with care and interest. Be willing to give what you are requesting. Get on the same page with yourself and your loved ones. Speak vulnerably and responsibly from your own experience, and look for win-win solutions.
From a place of a little more clarity—a little more resilience—we can bring the qualities of calm, relaxation, less stress, and more ability to flow with the uncertainty (which is the only sure thing).
We might be making difficult choices about safety, health, and survival or being blessed enough to be struggling with travel choices.
We might be feeling the pull of extended family and friends, hunkering down with an inner circle, or feeling the deep care and soft heart for all the suffering so many are enduring.
Whatever the struggle, taking the time for self-care, presence, reflection, and brave conversation, might help create more moments of joy. (Which we all deserve.)