Tis the season for holly, jolly, and frayed nerves. (Don’t laugh — you know it’s true.)
I think it is possible to enjoy the season and at the same time maintain a calm perseverance no matter the challenges and annoyances that present themselves. Here are four specific actions you can try to bring more serenity to your holiday season.
1. Practice the Skill of Daily “Bookending”
The idea of “bookending” is a term I created for myself, I’m not sure it is actually a “thing.” Basically, the way this goes is that, in my opinion, most of us have the most control over our day around the start of it and around the end of it. Thus, these are the optimal times for having focused, centered, grounding practices that help remind us of our priorities and create space for thoughtful reflection. I call these bookends.
You might already have practices to start or end your day, but I ask you to bring more awareness to them. And if not, start by giving it a try. Whether it’s 10 minutes or 30, what can you do for calm serenity to start and end your day? Meditation, sipping tea with journaling, yoga stretches, reading… you do you, but give yourself some protected space to do so.
2. Say No
There’s a saying “what we tolerate we perpetuate.” Life is a little more complicated than that, but I encourage you to maintain serenity during busy or stressful times, to work on saying no a little more often. This one requires some discernment; sometimes the right thing to do is to say no to things you really want to do (like stay up another hour with friends and have one more glass of wine) and sometimes the right thing to do is to say yes to things you really want to not do at all (holidays at the in-laws). I’m not saying that you should just blanket your holidays with no. But I’m asking you to take a second and think about what’s a “yes” that should have been a “no.” Clear a little room so you can come up for air.
3. Be More Like a Kid
The holidays are the perfect time to approach life with a child-like (not child-ish) attitude. Children marvel at all the special things we enjoy this time of year — mulled ciders, twinkle lights, cherished family recipes… If you take a moment to look at how many special things there are to be enjoyed, it makes the less desirable aspects of these things more enjoyable. If you consider how much you enjoy making grandma’s cookie recipe, the hour of doing dishes isn’t so bad. Or really soak in the joy of those twinkle light displays to alleviate the annoyance of crowds and long lines.
4. Laugh About It
This time of year is great to have a good laugh. Invite your friends over for some board games. Watch more comedies on Netflix instead of the yule log channel (although I do love a good fake yule log for some wintery zen). There is no shortage of funny videos on Facebook. Tell funny (punny) jokes around the house.
Honestly, that’s it. Laugh. It really is medicine.