‘Tis the season to be happy, but happiness isn’t all the holidays bring. Everywhere you go this time of year, you’re greeted with jingling bells and cheery carols, and commercials and Facebook are full of smiling families in matching sweaters. It seems that everyone is full of non-stop merriment, which can make you think you’ve done something wrong during those moments when you feel frazzled, angry, or overwhelmed.
As a spiritual teacher and energy healer, I see many students at my healing courses each January who are dealing with the aftermath of the holidays: hurt feelings or resentment from family get-togethers, sugar-comas and sluggishness from too much food, depression, exhaustion, and all kinds of other symptoms caused by “the most wonderful time of the year.” The holidays do bring joy of course, but let’s admit it, they can also be quite stressful and challenging. What all the glossy pictures don’t show is the rushing around, the search for perfect gifts, the hours spent cooking, baking, decorating, or addressing holiday cards—the barrage of obligations and activities that might leave you feeling more exhausted than cheerful.
Whatever your traditions, arming yourself with some protective measures as the holidays get into full swing is a smart move. Just as energy healing clears negative energy from your chakras and field before it can cause physical symptoms, these 10 tips are can help reduce your stress before it creates bigger problems, and make your holidays healthier and happier.
1. You can’t do everything (and you shouldn’t have to).
Consumer culture is designed to make you feel like you’ve failed if your holiday isn’t perfectly choreographed and ready for a Martha Stewart magazine spread, but you are just one person! This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel, but rather understand that you may not be able to plan the company holiday party, bake pumpkin pies for the whole neighborhood, and hand-make all your gifts. Delegate where you can, take a few shortcuts, and generally give yourself a break this year.
2. Manage expectations.
Nothing will be perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Trying to meet unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disappointment, so don’t let the little snafus get you down. People might be late, drinks might spill, and gifts may not arrive on time, but the unpredictability is what makes it fun. Try to set manageable goals you know you can accomplish, but also allow yourself to be flexible and spontaneous.
3. Take time to recharge.
You need some alone time each day during this busy season to decompress. Go for a walk, play with a pet, take a bath, make a snow angel, meditate, whatever calms your mind, body, and soul. Even if it’s just five minutes, take a break from the hustle and bustle to recharge.
4. Reevaluate your holiday routines.
Is there a holiday tradition that you dread each year? If you find yourself wondering why you are still doing an activity that doesn’t bring you joy or fulfillment, it may be time to let it go. With a jam-packed season, why waste time on something that is no longer rewarding?
Meditation is always an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but during this time of year, meditation becomes even more vital to your sanity. My recommendation is twenty minutes twice a day and this is the one time of year you don’t want to skip it. Trust me, you will feel calmer and happier.
6. Get enough sleep.
Sleep is underrated most of the year, but now, when sickness spreads easily and stress is high, sleep is essential medicine. Seven to eight or even nine hours a night will keep your immune system strong, your focus sharp, and your mood more stable. Getting enough sleep will also help you combat sugar and carb cravings so you can avoid overeating.
7. Give from the heart.
The true spirit of the season is about giving rather than receiving, and true giving comes from the heart. Anyone can plop down a credit card, but thoughtful, heart-felt gifts are always more appreciated and memorable. Consider giving to a children’s charity or hospital, or give your time and volunteer. Knowing you are helping others and making their holidays brighter is more rewarding than anything you could possibly get.
8. Give the gift of forgiveness.
This is the season for friendship and families, but that doesn’t mean hurt feelings or resentments suddenly disappear. Holding grudges hurts you more than the other person, so for both your sakes, give the gift of forgiveness this year. Use the techniques you’ve learned in energy medicine to approach those sticky relationships with love, and use this time to begin healing old wounds.
9. Practice kindness.
Being kind to others isn’t just for the holidays, but this is a time to focus on radiating that kindness far and wide. Give up your perfect parking place at the mall, help someone carry their packages across the store, and be sure to say thank you to the clerks, wait staff, and flight attendants who help you out this season. A smile and kind words are always in season.
10. Get in the spirit.
The spirit of the season is about light and spreading that light to others. So take some time to think about what this holiday means to you on a deeper, spiritual level. Keeping your larger purpose in mind will help you focus on what’s really important to you and allow you to release everything else.
Lastly, set an intention to enjoy yourself this year! The holidays are what you make of them, so maintain your energy healing routines, have fun, let go of guilt and obligation, keep your sense of humor, and be grateful that you have been given the gift of another year on this planet to experience laughter, light, and love.