Hopefully you’re not too stressed out by the thought! I’ll admit, I felt my blood pressure rise just a bit (and wiped a bead of sweat off my brow) just typing those words…and I’m a Christmas lover! Can you imagine what people who dread the season are going through right now?
Whether you’re a holiday lover, like me, or a holiday hater (for lack of a better word), it is possible to enjoy the season, despite the extra commitments. Improve your holiday (and your health) by focusing on these 5 holiday (and health) enhancers…
1. Balance: Balance can be a difficult concept to grasp. What first comes to mind is the image of a scale; perfectly balanced with equal weight on both sides. Yet, rarely in life are things so evenly distributed. There are times when family relationships require extra attention, other times when work and career must be a focus.
Balance is a result of knowing your priorities and living according to your values, and sometimes some compromise thrown in for good measure. This concept becomes especially important during this time of year. Holiday parties require that we balance fun with healthy choices, tight budgets with generous gift-giving, and peace with demanding family members.
As you head into the holiday season, know your “non-negotiables”. These are the items on which you will not compromise. Your list might include certain aspects of your physical health (i.e. maintaining your regular exercise, sleep, your chiropractic adjustments, etc.), your financial health (i.e. sticking to your savings plan, your gift spending limit, etc.), and the health of your relationship with family (i.e. your family-only New Year’s Eve, the one special tradition that’s important to you, etc.).
While you may give-in to keep peace with your sister, and you might choose to splurge on that extra special gift for the kids, you can maintain a sense of balance, and keep your emotional stress levels in check, by sticking by your non-negotiables.
2. Love: There is no stronger emotion than love, and no time of year when love is expressed and felt more than at Christmastime. Love is the feeling that allows us to treat each other with kindness and compassion and unlike money and things, the more love you give to others, the more you yourself receive. Bask in the love this holiday season (and always); give it, express it, accept it, and act on it. When coming from a place of love, your instincts will never steer you wrong.
3. Presence: As they say, “The greatest present is presence.” Be aware, stay in the moment, smile, and breathe. The past is gone, the future hasn’t yet happened, the only time that is ours is “now”. Focus on your experience at any given moment. Turn off the radio in the car. Turn the TV off in the house. Take in nature and find the beauty that surrounds you. There are loving deeds, beautiful sights, and delicious smells to be experienced, no matter if you’re at the mall, or stuck in traffic. While stress, hustle and bustle may be happening around you, it is possible to find peace in your own life by shifting your focus to the here and now.
4. Thankfulness: There’s no better way to stop stress in its tracks, than by feeling thankful. The challenges and stresses of the holidays tend to make us focus in on fear, pain and other negative emotions. Feeling genuine gratitude and appreciation in your heart changes the state of your body and the neurons of your brain. The benefits are less stress, a healthier body, higher energy level, vitality, optimism, better memory and positive emotions like hope and happiness. Take extra effort this year to express your thankfulness by sending a handwritten thank you card, starting a gratitude journal, and by literally counting your blessings. For more on the health benefits of gratitude see my recent post, “Healing & Healing through Gratitude”.
5. Giving: Of course you’ll give gifts this holiday season, and maybe even receive a few yourself. However, my favorite concept of “giving” is the idea of “Pay it Forward”. If you have seen the movie, young Trevor McKinney, troubled by his mother’s alcoholism and fears of his abusive but absent father, is caught up by an intriguing assignment from his new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. How could you and your family put this concept of “giving” into practice in your life?
Wishing you a happy (and healthy) holiday season.