5 Tips for a Wholehearted Holiday

Do you find the holidays delightful… or dreadful?

Personally, I love the holidays - preparing surprises, family togetherness, practicing old/creating new traditions.  But the holidays can be tough as well.  All routines can fly out the window, leaving you feeling upside down.  There's joy and stress and indulgences and guilt and feelings are flying everywhere.  The holidays can get messy.  So I put together a list of things that help me keep my soul centered during the holiday season.  I hope you find them useful.


Tip #1:  Set your day up for success with Soul Care

Whether you're hosting or guesting this week, there can be a pressure to bounce out of bed the second you wake up to start family together time.  But taking just a couple minutes to take care of yourself in the morning can set you up to enjoy the day more fully.  Need some suggestions?

  • Do a few feel good stretches/yoga poses
  • Have a 1 song dance party
  • Write down the things you're looking forward to most that day
  • Take 5 deep breaths while visualizing yourself experiencing all the good feelings you want for yourself
  • Map out your day in your mind or on paper to prevent feeling overwhelmed or forgetting something important


Tip #2:  Take Breaks

Make sure you're respecting your need for recovery time.  If you start to feel tired/drained/overwhelmed - excuse yourself.  When I get together with family and friends at the holidays, I often find myself wondering "where did ____ go?"  Then I assume that person went to the bathroom.  When I'm talking to that person later I don't say "Hey, where were you earlier?"  I've already forgotten that they were "missing".  My point?  If you escape to a quiet room - or even for a long trip to the bathroom - because you need a few minutes to yourself, it will be ok.

Tip #3:  Decide ahead of time

There can be a lot of temptations and stressors at holiday parties.  It helps if you make decisions ahead of time about how you'll handle the difficult stuff. 

For example, when the whole family gets together and your favorite aunt shows up with 8 varieties of delicious homemade cookies - how many cookies will you eat?  You know she's coming, she brings these cookies every year and every year you eat too many and feel sick or guilty or like you've sabotaged all the healthy choices you've made over the last 6 months.  You can decide you'll have one or five or twenty(!) - the point is to have a plan because it's so much easier to stick to a decision you made BEFORE the treats show up.  This strategy can be applied to dinner, cocktails, and more.  The key is to decide ahead of time what your limits are and WHY you are setting them.   

The other thing you can decide ahead of time is how you'll respond if sensitive topics come up.  When I graduated from college the question "What are you going to do?" would throw me into a tail spin.  Now, questions about how my career is going leave me puzzled about what to share and how to explain my business to family members who have no idea what I'm up to - if I don't have a strategy in place for what to say.

Maybe you expect someone is going to ask you about your dating life or marriage plans or when you're going to start a family.  Maybe topics like the president-elect or Standing Rock or Syria will come up.  It's possible/probable that not everyone will have the same viewpoints as you. 

If you have a plan for what you're going to say (or what you're not going to say), it's easier to be honest and authentic and kind without sharing more than you want to.  (I know that feeling after sharing something too personal with someone who has not earned that level of trust in my life and it's not good.)

The plan could be: if someone brings up this topic I will excuse myself to go to the bathroom.  Or:  If someone asks me when we're going to have a baby I will say "We're really enjoying the peace of being married and after all the wedding planning this year, we're taking some time before we make any more big life changes."

Tip #4: Be Kind to Yourself

No matter how you are feeling or how things go over the next couple weeks - be gentle to yourself.  You are doing the best you can.   

If you are missing someone or hurting from a recent experience or feeling down for any reason - allow yourself to be present in those feelings.  Allow yourself to feel your feelings and don't beat yourself up for having them.

Consider the kindness you extend to others - to friends and family and strangers - at this time of the year.  Show yourself the same generosity.

And remember that you are more than enough, exactly as you are.

Tip #5:  End your day with Gratitude

Like the song from the classic, White Christmas, suggests:


If you're worried and you cant sleep,

just count your blessings instead of sheep

and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.

After a great day, this will be easy.  If you've had a tough day, start small.  Maybe it's the way your niece smiled at you.  Maybe you got to drink your coffee hot because your kids were playing with cousins.  Maybe a photo brought back a happy memory.  The more you practice finding gratitude, the easier it gets.  And the more gratitude you find, the more it carries you through all the ups and downs of life. 


From my heart to yours, Happy Holidays.