Tis the season… to be calm

Have you noticed the pace has picked up this month? When you step into a mall, the frenzy is almost palatable. People scurrying around, desperate for the perfect gift, worried that they have forgotten someone, and distracted by the myriad of colors and choices on display. Bright lights, big stress!!!

The holiday season is meant to be about love, joy and sharing. Somehow the combination of generosity, obligation and tradition with a healthy dose of commercialism has created a mindset that is antithetical to the intention behind the actions. There is a contagious element to the frenetic holiday vibe too. The good news is that we get to choose how we will be about the holidays.

Several years ago, I talked with my family about Christmas and how I was feeling. My preference is to buy gifts for people throughout the year if I see something I think they will really love. I think that in my family, we generally have everything we need and if we don’t, we go and get it. I would rather spend time with someone doing something meaningful than swapping gift cards or checks. Communicating about values has made gift giving a lot lighter and more enjoyable in my family.

If we look at holiday stress as a bit of an epidemic, what is the antidote or inoculation?

– Being clear on what is important or a priority. What will set the house on fire if you don’t do it? What can wait? What is significant even though it is not urgent?

– Setting reasonable goals and timeframes (I remember helping my brother on Christmas Eve to shop for a present for my parents. We actually slid between closing doors to the department store so that we didn’t get locked out… we made it fun but it was also chaotic)

– Take care of yourself. Planning down time – In the go-go-go pace, make time for yourself to relax. You may even need to make appointments with yourself in your calendar. Do things that you enjoy doing or find relaxing. Go see your acupuncturist to boost your immune system and have stress relief. Eat well AND regularly. Have a bubble bath. Take a yoga class. The better rested you are, the more equipped you will be to handle the extra pressure of the season.

– Communicate with the people around you about your approach to the holiday season. Design with your family how you would like to handle different aspects of your time together. Be mindful of your responses and words when people talk about how stressed or crazy they feel. You get to either collude with their stress or be a stress buster.

Sometimes I feel a bit like a country girl floating through the big city. I like to keep life simple (even when traveling at break neck speed) and not engage with the drama.

What is your relationship with calmness?