As the calendar rolls over into the month of December, I usually brace myself for what it sure to be a busy, and possibly exhausting, few weeks. I love the festivities around the holidays; the lights, the gatherings, the excuses to eat cookies and drink hot chocolate. Yet, the full calendar and added pages to my to-do list can sometimes keep me from being present and fully embracing all the fun.
Being mindful this time of year can help. The practice of mindfulness can assist with managing the stress and overwhelm as well as bring you more joy as you surround yourself with the holiday cheer.
Are you thinking, “Yes - I want more of that?!”
Great - let’s talk about how you can me more mindful this season.
Here are a few tips to help you bring more mindful awareness into your life the month of December:
1. Be present.
Try to allow your awareness and attention to stay present. Instead of constantly drifting away to all the things you need to do, see if you can be aware of what you are doing, while you are doing it.
You may need to stop what you are doing from time to time and take a few full breaths in order to get back to the present moment. Once you do, you might enjoy the small moments you would have otherwise missed as you were checking another item off your never-ending list. I know some of those things still need to get done, but see if you can’t enjoy the process a bit more by staying present with it.
2. Be mindful to what you say yes to, and, allow yourself to say no.
Here is your permission to say no this month. You will likely find yourself saying yes to a lot more than you normally do, so see if you can’t find some semblance of balance by also saying no to the things that you know won’t serve you. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at the thought of what you are saying yes to, reassess if it’s something you truly have to do.
If you find that just the thought of volunteering at another school event, attending yet another party, or baking yet another batch of cookies brings you an ache in your gut or tightness in your chest, then listen to that sign. Your body (and spirit) is trying to tell you it’s time to say no. You can re-engage and be super mom/dad or co-worker in January.
3. Be aware of where you put your energy.
Have you noticed what you put your physical, mental and emotional energy into this time of year? Are you so busy worrying about finding all the right gifts - or maybe beating yourself up for not finding all the right gifts - that you are causing yourself extra, and unnecessary stress?
There is enough stress already in December, you certainly don’t need to add on to it with your unrealistic expectations. See what it feels like to be OK with your cookies being a bit more on the crispy (that’s how I refer to my burnt cookies) side. Be OK with the gift you impulsively bought for your sweetheart, without continuously searching for the “perfect” gift. Be aware of how you are spending your physical, mental and emotional energy and allow yourself to let go of the criticism.
4. Remember what is important to you.
Try not to get so swept up in all the things we are told we need to do (or be) and remember what matters most to you. Reconnect with your values and allow them to be your guiding light as you move through December.
- Is it important to you to spend all your money on gifts or is it more important that you show your loved ones you care about them?
- Do you value spending time with your extended family? Immediate family? Co-workers? Neighbors? Yourself?
- Is it important for you to volunteer or give back to your community, schools, or those in need?
- Are you aware of your love language and how you give and receive love? If so, lean into that this season and express you care in the ways that make sense for you.
By reconnecting with what is important to you, you might find it easier to move through the next month with more joy and ease. When you listen to your inner guidance, stay present in the moment, and honor your energy, you might just find yourself letting go of the to-do list briefly enough to remember what the holidays are all about and what they mean to you.
Now, go make yourself a cup of hot cocoa, grab a cookie, and make a toast to December and another holiday season upon us!