The holiday season can sometimes bring pressure and stress with expectations we put on ourselves and others. In addition, the heightened commercialism and high energy in advertising is contradictory to the quiet inward movement that is more natural in cold winter weather.
In my own life, I work to balance my personal desire to metaphorically hibernate at this time of year with more social interests of family and friends. I also strive to be purposeful and mindful in gift-giving and consider how to do so in a way that might bring more connection.
Open to Being focuses on mindful, compassionate connections. So what does that look like in the holiday season? Here are a few suggestions to help you open (more) to being in the holiday season.
Take time for yourself
Look ahead now and plan time and activities for yourself throughout the season.
❄️ This could mean a few minutes of journaling or meditation some mornings. (Give yourself some slack at this potentially busy time, though, and set a realistic goal - even just one day can make a difference!)
❄️ Maybe regular time in nature is meaningful for you. For the next month of so, see if you can do this without music or your phone, alone, and with no destination or goal involved.
❄️ Give yourself a small gift to help make sure you take these moments for yourself. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive - a new pencil to journal with, a small notebook or sketchbook just the month of December, or some stickers to mark “me times” on your schedule. An extra little gift to yourself can bring you a more joy and be a powerful message that you are committed to taking care of yourself.
Remind yourself what moments matter most
Prepare for gatherings, social activities, and other events by remembering what kinds of moments are most important to you.
❄️ Is there someone you’re really looking forward to spending time with this holiday? Can you carve out a little extra time with that person? What could you do to help you appreciate the time with them even more?
❄️ Do you find joy in noticing someone else’s love of the season or particular activity even if it’s not your favorite? Try documenting that person’s enjoyment and see how it makes you feel to do so. You'll be creating a memory for a future year at the same time.
❄️ If there’s a person you miss or can’t spend time with this year, send them a personal note. Take time to choose pretty paper and envelope, even a special stamp. If you’ve lost someone you love, carve out a moment to write a note to that person. Express the joy and love on paper that you wish you could share in person. You might even put that note away after you’re written it until next year or an anniversary or another time when you want to read your words again.
❄️ Talk together with family and friends about what matters most to you collectively, then plan accordingly. If it’s gathering for a meal, do just that and leave out the gift-giving or other activities this year. If people want different things (which could be very likely), see if you can make a plan to allow each person to have one aspect of their “holiday wishes” with everyone together. If one person enjoys giving gifts, for example, let them do so without the pressure to reciprocate. If someone else likes a particular tradition, invite them to share what they love about that with everyone.
Give gifts that matter
How might you give gifts this year that help you connect more meaningfully with the recipient?
❄️ You could get a blank notebook and share thoughts throughout the year with each other in the same book.
❄️ What about a set of greeting cards you can share with someone? You can each promise to send each other notes throughout the year, any time you feel like it.
❄️ Need a calendar this year? Get the same one for a group of friends or family members, so so you can all share it together every day of the year.
Remember kindness (especially for yourself)
Above everything, be kind and compassionate to yourself! Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Let yourself slip up. Don’t pile on more pressure by trying too hard to be a certain way (including “more mindful”). Be you. It’s ok. You’re human. So is everyone else.
Maybe the most mindful and compassionate thing to do this holiday season is to remember just that - we are all human, with ALL of our human-ness. Honestly, that awareness is really at the heart of connecting compassionately, any time of the year.