Making the Best of the Holidays
Thanks to Sounds True, we have many good suggestions for making the most of the holidays. It is a norm for the holidays to be happy and joyous, and it is a norm for many people for the holidays to be filled with emotional and behavioral challenges. To reduce your stress and reactivity over the holidays and time with family, see the edited listing below. I have added some skills that were not included in the Sounds True listing.
- Selfcare may require that you practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong and other forms of concentration and movement during the holidays. Do these practices more often if possible.
- Practice preview in the morning by noting one thing you look forward to in the day. Practice review in the evening regarding one thing you enjoyed during the day. Stay with the positive.
- Practice helpful breathing techniques often during the holidays. Take a breathing break. Smile as much as possible. Allow this “mouth yoga” to help you when encountering interpersonal challenges.
- Use your own mantra. Make one up that helps to keep you stable and say it to yourself often. This is especially important during times/events when stress reactivity may occur.
- When your mind and body begin to tighten up as stress precursors, go directly to your heart. Fine a soft and gentle place there to rest, and forgive others if ready and able to do so.
- Practice the thymus rub or thymus thump as a self-defense practice. Rub hard and long or thump moderately to reduce building emotional reactivity or anxiety.
- If you know the old Callahan Technique or current emotional freedom methods, tap on essential relief areas/points and use your mantra to support cognitive modifications in thoughts.
- Recognize that sometimes to protect yourself, you will have to say “NO.” Do so softly and respectfully. But do it when necessary.
- Monitor your emotional eating and alcohol consumption as forms of self-medication during the holidays. The American norm of “excess” also happens when we sit down for family meals, especially if there is unresolved emotional tension between people.
- Use grace a lot during the holidays. Become familiar with your own form of grace. Be generous with it during the holidays. Add some gratitude practice.
- If you know how to do it, practice loving kindness meditation. For example, May I be safe, healthy, free from suffering, happy, and live with ease. Do so for others in your family, especially people who may trigger your emotional reactivity. Remember that all people suffer.
- Be generous with your time, space, affection and love during the holidays. Be certain these expressions are authentic, but know that they does NOT have to be 100% authentic. Do your best. Fake it if necessary until you make it!
- Go outside at night and get in touch with the winter sky. Look at all those stars with utter amazement. Enjoy them! You may want to practice outdoor meditation on the sky, stars, moon, etc.
- What ever happens remain in the present. Do NOT fall back to past painful memories and experiences; do NOT fast forward to fears and apprehensions about the future. Stay in the present moment, breathe, and make the most of it all.
- Practice random acts of kindness during the holidays. Small meaningful things can produce great emotional rewards when they come from the heart.
- Before bedtime, practice calming body scanning. Do this practice slowly, and do your best to “feel” the soothing, calming sensations in your body.
For more information refer to Sounds True (2017). A Holiday Companion.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness