As Christmas draws near, it’s more important than ever to nurture your positive spirit with these techniques.
Posted in , Dec 21, 2017
The days before Christmas can feel like the not-so-calm before the storm. It’s a joyful storm, of course, but after weeks of planning, shopping, baking, gifting and gathering, fatigue can compete with excitement as the holiday draws near.
This is when the self-care skills we’ve cultivated all year serve us so well. Walking a positive path through Christmas week means reaching into our self-care toolbox and remembering the tried-and-true techniques for loving and supporting ourselves.
1) Set Boundaries
Remember that celebrating Christmas doesn’t require you to say “yes” to every invitation, respond to every Christmas card with a long, personal message or display the most spectacular lights or tablescape for your neighbors and guests. Identify the things you most value about your family’s Christmas experience, and do those things—give yourself permission to gently say “no” to everything else.
If this isn’t the cornerstone of achievable self-care, I don’t know what is. Breathing slowly and deeply is available to you every minute of every day. Remind your brain to send your body the “relax!” signal by extending your exhales so they last one count longer than your inhales. Notice when your breathing is becoming tight or shallow, and see if your next breath can be just a little slower, just a little deeper. Even five mindful breaths can reset your outlook in a more positive direction.
3) Feed Your Whole Self
Eating positively over Christmas doesn’t mean opting for a salad when everyone else is tucking into roasts and cakes. It does mean choosing foods that feed you in every way—satisfying your physical hunger, of course, but also connecting you with memories of holidays past, exiting you with flavors both comforting and new, and leaving you satisfied but not uncomfortably full. Ask yourself, what will nourish my body and spirit today? Then enjoy every bite.
4) Move—and Rest—Your Body
Maintaining anything resembling a typical sleep-wake schedule during Christmas can be difficult, but it is important to make space for the restorative sleep you need to be your best self around the tree and table. Just as important as rest is movement—you don’t need to do a full-on workout on Christmas morning, but bundling up and taking a walk around your neighborhood or in a nearby park will get fresh air in everyone’s lungs, and a positive outlook in your hearts.
5) Feel Your Feelings
Christmas is a time of joy, but it can be challenging for people who are experiencing relationship struggles, grief or financial difficulties. If you are struggling to connect with the positivity of the season, check in with a close friend, clergy member, or professional counselor for guidance. Allow yourself the time and space to experience the wide range of emotions that comes with such an expectation-laden time of year, and remember that part of walking a positive path is seeking the right supports during tough times.
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader