Maintaining Zen during the Holidays

The Holidays. A time to celebrate tradition, honor your beliefs, change, joy, gratitude, and grace. . . maybe break out your showy decorations, make or buy presents,  But we all know what this time of year also has a tendency to bring with it;  The stressfullness of getting everything done in time. The obligation to see family, even though it may be inconvenient. Feeling obligated to gift give,  Navigating your way through a season of consumerism and noise. Pleasing others is a beautiful thing, but is it really that gratifying if all that effort leaves you feeling emotionally and mentally drained, and with a dry pocket book, wishing you were laying somewhere on a tropical beach with a cocktail in your hand?

Sadly, it seems with many holidays this day and age, the are far to many expectations to exceed. When did this become Christmas? Chanukah, or any of the other sacredly important Holidays celebrated this time of year? The hectic shopping crowds, the spending hundreds of dollars to travel somewhere you probably don’t really want to travel, when you could just be in the warm, comfort of your own home. I love my family, and have had many wonderful holidays with them, but I’m lucky that no one in my family makes me feel guilty if I don’t want to go out of my way to be there. They understand that Holidays can be overrated to a point of disappointment for a lot of people, so ultimately its about taking some time for yourself and doing what you need to do to get through the storm. Making an effort to be joyous, celebratory, and present with the ones you love daily opposed to reserving that kind of gratitude for one or two days out of the year.

Its a very American thing to save all your celebration and hard earned downtime and try to cram it into a few days. That can’t really be healthy. We should be taking more downtime on the regular, to take care of our own needs, and to also honor the needs of others. If we reserve only a short amount of time to relax, but also knowing that that short amount of time comes with agendas and expectations, then its not about sharing joy and quality time with your loved ones, its about putting in your dues, and thats not something anyone really looks forward to.

Remember to take time for yourself. Time to do exactly what you want and need to do, regardless of what kind of expectations anyone else has for you. Take time to be still, to be in solitude and silence, to take grounding, calming breaths. To laugh, and to cry if you need to cry. The Holidays put a lot of pressure on people to be happy and full of cheer, but for some, the Holidays bring up painful memories and past emotions. Be mindful of what others may be dealing with on a personal level and give them some of their own time to breath. If everyone takes that time to care for themselves, they can put more energy and care into giving those around them the love and support they want and hopefully have a legitimately pleasant Holiday season. free of expectations, free of stress, but full of cheer and light and gratitude. Ask yourself what the Holidays you celebrate truly mean to you and whom you share them with. No expectations, no judgement. Just honor whats important in your world. And remember not to sweat the small stuff.

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