December 16, 2021

5 Ways to Prepare Ourselves to Thrive & Not Just Survive the Holidays.

Christmas is coming and my collection of lists is growing.

There are the “wish lists” from my grandchildren overflowing with suggestions for Lego, puzzles, books, and online games, some of which I have never heard of!

There is the “Christmas card” list compiled by friends with whom I keep in touch at the holiday season.

A tattered recipe book highlights the cookies and special treats that have become a tradition over the years. I jot down ideas for gifts for my husband, hoping that this year I can get a gift for him that is actually a surprise.

As I count the days left before Christmas, I am reminded that there is another list to complete. This year, I am creating a bundle of gifts just for me. These are not presents that my family or friends can give me. They are gifts that I am giving myself.

In past years, I have been swept up in the pressure and chaos of Christmas preparations. Before I know it, I am reacting to external events with impatience and feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I don’t want to disappoint anyone and I strive unsuccessfully to get everything done that I think is important. The focus is on everyone else, and my own needs are at the bottom of my priorities.

Not this year! These choices are my gift to myself, with the goal of being rested, healthy, and happy during this time of celebration.

Here is what I have in mind for my personal Christmas wish list.

1. I choose play.

This is a departure from my usual way of being, which is: work first, play later. This season, I let go of this belief. I give myself permission to get in touch with what I desire to do for fun and make space for that even if my tasks are not completed. Making time for playful activities leads to increased creativity, and pleasure is a recipe for joy. I want more of this in my life.

2. I create spaciousness in my schedule.

The overriding message in the days leading up to Christmas is that there is not enough time. Only 15 shopping days left! Toys are in short supply so get out to the stores right now. This urgency causes stress and tension in the air.

I make a conscious decision to slow down. Paying attention to my breathing is helpful. I book my appointments with care and give myself extra driving time. I stop at my local coffee shop and sit quietly listening to the holiday music, sipping my cappuccino.

3. I make time in nature a priority.

It may seem frivolous to head off to the woods for a walk when there are so many competing demands on my time. Here is what I know. This gift I give myself will benefit not only me. Nature is a healer and offers support not found in the shopping malls or while driving. I come back to my lists with renewed energy and the people I interact with will notice my grounded energy and smiling face.

4. Acceptance and surrender are two more gifts I give myself this Christmas.

This means I practice being present in each moment, focusing on what I have control over. So many conflicts arise when I obsess about how the other person is “making me upset.” I am 100 percent responsible for my own experience, and no one else can be blamed for my emotional state.

5. I focus on forgiveness as the “ribbon” on the package of gifts I am giving myself.

There are many incidents in the time leading up to Christmas that can cause hurt feelings and misunderstanding among family and friends. Unmet expectations or plans that are unexpectedly changed can lead to anger and hurt feelings.

When I am caught in the midst of turmoil, it is easy for me to blame others for my anger or sadness. Here is what I am choosing to do instead. First of all, I show compassion to myself and accept the pain that I may be feeling. I forgive myself for times I have been unkind to others. The next step is to forgive others. I may not know their whole story and I want to nurture our relationship, rather than dig in my heels and prove that I am right. This journey is a big one, and will be a gift that I will keep using all year.

I am smiling as I consider these gifts I am giving myself. I am grateful for the manner in which I am able to create the experience I want this Christmas season. What would you put on your personal Christmas list?

One last wish I have is that you, my reader, will be inspired to see how you have the power to find ways to thrive during this Christmas season.

Happy Holidays to you!


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