An Unbelievably Simple Tool to Make Your Holidays even Happier
My mom and I used to host a Christmas Eve celebration at her house. With two brothers and a sister and a mom who was a social butterfly, our house was often a social hub.
The fare was finger foods, fun refreshments that invited people to gather round the table and chat while sampling mini hot dogs in crescent rolls or buttermilk cookies or spinach dip or . . .
We always started the day with our menu and shopping done. Invariably we’d think of an ingredient we didn’t have . . . my mom would dash off to the grocery store. I’d stay home and keep the food prep progressing. Without fail, she would return with the needed item and then something else she thought of while there.
Then as the day progressed and things were turning out well and we were feeling full of energy and enthusiasm, one of us (usually my mom, the more ambitious one) would turn to the other and say, “Oh, you know what else we should make?” And then relate some family favorite. The other one would foolishly say, oh yeah, so and so loves that. Off my mom would trot again. This left us toiling away in the kitchen for a few more hours ultimately having to make a last minute dash to get ourselves dressed and pressed, ready for company.
We would end up with the most delicious spread of food for our guests. The problem is, we would both be exhausted and, in my case, grumpy. Though even my extroverted-life-of-the-party mom could be pretty subdued.
Here’s a photo of my beloved Marme, that life of the party gal and me, after one such eventful holiday.
What I so wish we would have done when those light bulb ideas came is pause. I wish we would have taken a couple of deep breaths and thought about adding those extra dishes and hours of cooking to our day. I like to think we might have said, let’s save that one for new year’s eve or some such. And most importantly I like to think that would have allowed us to relax, enjoy the fruits of our labors, as well as the wonderful company that dropped in for our gathering.
I’m much better at that now. The pausing thing, I mean. That’s why I’m writing. As we get into the holiday season and there are many tasks to complete, traditions to uphold, gifts to buy, social gatherings, festive sights to see and cheery events to attend, it can all become overwhelming.
Taking a moment to stop and check in with yourself can help you in many ways. It will . . .
- Calm your nervous system
- Give you a chance to notice how you are truly feeling in that moment
- Allow you to more consciously choose what comes next
- Bring you to the present so that you can more fully enjoy what there is to enjoy in that moment
This could be as simple as closing your eyes, placing your hand on your tummy and taking 3 deep breaths, where you feel your belly rise and fall. Below is a video of another simple practice that requires a bit more focus and thus is more effective at bringing your mind on board. It’s about 4 minutes, practice first and explanation at the end. I figure you don’t want to know why it works if you don’t feel inclined to use it. I definitely don’t want to be sending something out there that you’ll just feel guilty for knowing it works when you don’t feel inclined to use it!
PRO TIP: The more often you do this, the more effective it will be. Try setting a timer to pause and check in with yourself a couple times a day.