Before you rush into a state of feeling overscheduled, overextended and overworked this holiday season, *pause*.
While this is a favorite time of year for some, this upcoming stretch can also be incredibly stressful, emotionally-taxing and just plain exhausting for many of us. (There is a reason the suicide rate and need for therapeutic support skyrocket in January.)
As you move into the next thirty days, consider approaching the holidays intentionally.
What does that mean? Well, if you were to set a theme for the holiday season what would it be? What do you most want to experience this time of year? What worked and what didn’t work last year?
Here are some possible themes for you to consider. What resonates with you (what speaks to your heart, not your head)?
- Rest and rejuvenation. This year has been a stressful one for many. Most of us don’t realize how tired—physically and emotionally—we really are. This might be the time for you to “schedule unscheduled time” so you can relax into long naps, enjoy a restorative yoga or movement class, lazy walks in nature and lots of downtime. And practice “less is more” when it comes to holiday activities.
- Spiritual renewal. This month is a great time to revive or begin a spiritual practice. For many around the world, the month of December is a time to celebrate love, re-birth and our connection to God. There are many wonderful opportunities to enjoy a spirit-filled holiday through music, dance, seasonal religious rituals, chanting or Taize, special prayer/meditation services, nature activities and more. What does the holiday season represent to you? What feeds you spiritually? Read more about this topic here.
- Connection and healing with family members. What if you showed up at family holiday gatherings--whether you're hosting the get-together or not--with the mindset that this might be the last time you’ll ever see your family members? How might you treat them? Do you think some of your expectations might change around how they should treat you or behave at family gatherings? Would your language or tone change in your interactions with them? Would you initiate long overdue conversations? Express your love or gratitude for their presence in your life? If you’re open, this might be the year that much needed healing finally begins to take place.
- Service to others. This season presents us with many opportunities to help others (in our neighborhood, city, country and beyond). If you desire a more meaningful holiday, then volunteering your time, treasures or talents is a profound way to feel your connection to humanity and all you have to be grateful for. Check your local paper and United Way office for a list of volunteer opportunities. “The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action.” Mother Teresa.
- Simplicity. Many of us throw ourselves into overwhelm due to unrealistic expectations around the holidays. We simply try to do too much. Maybe this is the year when less is more. Let the lights stay in their boxes, get a table top rosemary tree instead of a seven-foot fir, skip the holiday cards this once, draw names for gifts (or forego gifts all together if your family could all agree to this) and let someone else do the cooking this year. Read one of the most popular chapters from my book The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal “Good is Good Enough!”
- Creative expression. Some of you may find tremendous joy, satisfaction and passion through creating unique gifts, decorations and food items for family and friends. If you feel like your creative juices have been stymied, take this time to brainstorm with your family or friends on simple but fun things you can do which utilize your creativity and innovation (my family is looking forward to creating homemade aromatherapy bath salts as gifts for teachers).
What activities or choices might you make to support your holiday intention? What do you need to let go of? What “should’s” need to be released?
As you enter this holiday season, reflect for a minute on last year: what fed you and what drained you about the 2008 holiday season? Listen to your needs, say no to activities that don't fuel you, make choices that support your emotional and physical well-being, keep it simple, and, when in doubt--practice self-kindness and be easy on yourself.
You'll be surprised by how many people around you will follow your lead.
Wishing you much peace in your life, in your home and in your heart this season and every day. Warmly—Renee
P.S. Are you a member of our Live Inside Out Facebook Community? Join the dialogue and receive weekly tips on how to live more intentionally—every day.
Upcoming Events and Training:
- January 21st 7:30-8:30 p.m. CST FREE Live Inside Out Class with Renee Trudeau. Topic: Managing Your Energy and Saying No. Join Renee and women from around the world in a "virtual living room" as we explore how to live life from the inside-out. Register here to receive call information and listen to previous LIO classes.