3 to Jolly

Christmas is a hop, skip, and a jump away.

I know we all have a ton of stuff to get done before the big day – last minute shopping, wrapping, keeping an eye on the porch for that Amazon box they PROMISED would get here by midnight on the 24th – I’m with you.

But take five minutes to read this blog first. I’m giving you 10 strategies to stay mindful, sane, and healthy this holiday and all you have to do is remember 3 of them.

That’s it: THREE. Pick your favorites – the ones that really resonate with you – and keep them in the back of your mind over the next few days. Pull them out when you need them. (And you’ll know when you need them).

These tips aren’t groundbreaking news, and you’ve probably heard some of them before. The key here is committing to yourself that you will try a few. That’s where the evolving happens.

If everyone who reads this blog (I get reports on this, and you number in the hundreds!) actually employs these strategies this holiday season, think of the amount of stress we will collectively reduce!

So, in random order:

1.     Breathe. The simplest one but perhaps the hardest. How many times do we slow down long enough to inhale and exhale (like consciously, with awareness of it) and calm down? I use this one a lot when I feel my mind start to race and my body get anxious because I have to wrap a million gifts and bake cookies and clean the bathroom while my daughter is asking for more milk for the 87th time and the little one is spilling said milk all over my carpet. Use Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique to calm it all down. The Christmas spirit is defeated by anxiety, and you don’t deserve that.

2.     Indulge to your set point. What’s your set point? The point between satisfying your sweet tooth and giving yourself a treat BUT BEFORE crossing the line into “I’ve started so what’s wrong with one more”/”now I can’t stop”/“Ugh, now I’m feeling guilty.” This is especially true for those of us who lean towards guilt and a bit of self-loathing around food. Treat yourself to what you really enjoy – you deserve it. But you don’t deserve the crap feelings that come with overindulging. Pick your favorites and allow yourself to enjoy them. Chew mindfully, taste mindfully, all of the eating mindfully stuff. (That's how your body understands it's time to enjoy food instead of mindlessly inhaling it). But then: stop. That’s taking care of yourself.

3.     Soak it in. That moment when the whole family is standing around talking and laughing and the kids are playing and Michael Buble is crooning “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” in the background? That’s a Kodak moment in your mind. Stop and savor it. Notice the colors, the sounds, the way your body is feeling in that moment. Just be with yourself and appreciate it. That’s all. Appreciate.

4.     Big-World View. Whatever it is that stresses you out – a comment passed, an outfit that doesn’t look right, a family members’ scowl, a package that doesn’t arrive on time – just remember that (although upsetting), it is not the end of the world. You know the movies where they zoom out from a person standing in their kitchen up through the sky and into outer space so you can see the whole Earth on the screen? Imagine that. We’re all going to have a grievance in our kitchen (or wherever). Everyone does. It’s not so important, and this, too, shall pass. Keep it in perspective.

5.     Say Something Nice. Research shows that showing compassion and kindess to others not only generates positivity within that person, but that it increases our own level of happiness even more. This is a win-win. Unfortunately, it’s not always our first instinct to extend an olive branch or to give a compliment, particularly to someone who tends to get under our skin. But that’s exactly the person to whom I want you to say something nice. See how it feels. And it doesn’t matter if the other person receives it in kind or not – that’s not the point. You control your thoughts, your actions, and your emotions. Be positive with all of them.

6.     Smile & Sleep. Get enough of both. 

7.     Move your Body. I’m not saying you have to do a full-on workout here, but take a moment in the morning to stretch your body or even go for a walk. Try a new yoga pose (you can do this on your iphone, no excuses) and hold it for 60 seconds. Moving the body helps move the mind and frees us up for better things. We feel better when we move. Just move.

8.     Eat a Vegetable. There’s got to be a veggie platter or a salad on the table at some point. Eat some of that. 

9.     Disconnect. Turn off the screens and be with people. Literally put your phone away where you can’t look at it every 10 minutes. As Anne Lamott says: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Let Christmas be an unplugged day.

10. Meditate. This might not be for everyone, but if you are willing to try it, it works wonders. It doesn’t have to take long – three minutes will do. Sit somewhere quietly, by yourself, in an upright posture, and just be. It’s not about thinking, it’s about being quiet in your mind. When your mind races (it will), allow it to race and just notice the thoughts like logs floating by on a river. Separate yourself from your thoughts. Still your mind for 3 minutes. (I set my phone timer for this). 

Merry Christmas, guys. Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday!