By Marilyn Halpern, MSW, LSW ~
The Halloween decorations are barely put away and the enormity of the holiday frenzy is upon us. The two short months ahead can be more meaningful by being intentional with our plans. We can take the madness out and infuse the coming weeks with balance and more joy. Megan McWilliams Bouchard, the “Green Diva Meg”, offers these suggestions for putting peace and joy back into the holiday season.
1. Slow down. Try not to get too caught up in the frantic energy of this season and pace yourself.
2. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Re-evaluate your holiday to do list. Are there tasks that can be simplified, reduced or eliminated? Pay close attention to gift giving, greeting cards, and holiday meals.
3. Breathe. The 3-4-5 method is a great way to regulate your breathing. This breathing technique is based on the connection between your mind and body. To calm yourself, use the 3-4-5 method of deep breathing. Breathe in for 3 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Breathe out for 5 seconds. That’s it! This simple strategy will allow you to take deep, counted breaths to calm your body and bring it back to its relaxed state.
4. Give kindness. Leave the buying mania behind. Make space to spend more quality time with those you love and those in need. Think of experiences, museum memberships, charitable giving in the honor of a person as tokens of thoughtfulness rather than physical gifts.
5. Have a gentle voice. Minimize the critical, negative self-talk that comes when we are overwhelmed or exhausted. Try to complain less and have more gratitude. A gentle, patient voice for ourselves and others will go along way to elevating our mood during the holidays.
6. Smile. Did you know that smiling (even forcing a smile) is scientifically proven to help you feel better? Better yet, make sure you find a reason to smile as often as possible. This is a brilliant way to share your light with yourself and those around you.
NPR Life Kit Series has a wonderful survival guide for the holidays. The Playlist features 20-minute podcasts on relevant topics that will enhance your holiday experience. Check out the list at this site: https://www.npr.org/series/1058307075/your-life-kit-for-the-holidays
The greatest gift we can give the world this holiday season is to focus on our own self-care. This will allow us to share our time, energy and love in the most meaningful way possible. Savor the joyful moments of the season.
Marilyn Halpern is the founder and executive director of Aspen Care Services. This locally owned business provides medical power of attorney, care management and professional guardianship services in the Denver Metro area. For more information visit www.aspencareservices.com or www.aginglifecare.org. Photo by Andreas Haubold.