Some of us will be having big celebrations around this time of year: Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and others. We’ll be connecting with friends and family, shopping, planning meals, wrapping gifts, attending holiday parties, and doing many other activities. But I’d like to offer you a suggestion about one very important item you might want to add to your “to-do list” this time of year—a quiet mind.
Around this time of year, it can become very easy for you to become over-extended, tending to all of the activities and chores that have become part of your traditional holiday routine. And while you and I will both admit that this can be a truly wonderful time of each year, you may also admit that it can also be one of the most stressful.
And that’s, in part, because you may put all of the things on your “to-do list” ahead of taking care of yourself. And this involves doing several activities that will help you quiet your mind and free you up to take care of the things you think you have to take care of—mindfully and joyfully.
So, what can you do to quiet your mind? Here are a few suggestions:
- Acknowledge your feelings. Though this is certainly a joyous of time of the year which many of you look forward to, this time of year can also bring up unpleasant memories and “demons” from holidays-past. It is important that, while you may want to feel especially happy and jolly this time of year, you may also be experiencing some “ghosts” of holiday past that are not so pleasant. Let these feelings come freely—and then let them go. This will help you equalize your feelings and moods and ultimately arrive at the realistic state of joy and happiness you desire.
- Remember your healthy habits. This is the time when you should pay particular attention to adhering to your healthy habits. Get your seven or eight hours of sleep. Eat healthy meals that contain lots of fiber and roughage. Be sure to walk around the park or get whatever regular exercise you usually do; now is not the time to stop moving your body to increase the secretion of pleasure-producing hormones. Spend time with people you care about who also care about you. You are a social creature by nature, so now should be a time to spend quality time with those you care about.
- Learn to say, “No!” There may be events happening or requests made of you this time of year that you really don’t want to attend or take care of. Since your plate may be particularly full at this time of year, make sure you give yourself permission to say, “No!” to those activities you don’t want to do. Go easy on yourself. Taking care of you will make it much easier for you to take care of others or tasks that you really do want to take care of.
- Set aside differences. This is the perfect time of the year for you to forgive and set aside differences you may have had with others in the past. Live each day as it comes and clear the slate of each day of past regrets or slights or unpleasant acts or behavior. Enjoy every moment of every day as much as you can, and don’t drag along negative events from yesterday that may dampen the “good” that’s present in today.
- Be realistic. You’re only one person and there’s only so much that you can get done in each day. Be sure that your “to-do list” for each day is realistic. Cross off the things that you really don’t need or want to take care of and take care of those things that you feel compelled to do—and that will bring you and others joy.
Holidays can—and are supposed to be—joyful and happy experiences. Anything or anyone who would counteract your experience of joy during these times should be avoided at all costs. Take these things off of your “to-do list” and keep on the list those habits, thoughts, feelings, people, and activities that will help you make this time the joy-filled, memorable time you want it to be.
Quiet your mind! This will help you go a long way toward experiencing the holiday of your desires and dreams.
About the Author
Cynthia Barnes, PH.D., lives in Denver, Colorado and is an experienced educational and training professional at all educational levels. Dr. Barnes has a background in organizational development and change and systems thinking/operating. She is a published author with exceptional written, oral, and interpersonal relationship skills. Dr. Barnes has consulted with organizations and school systems throughout the United States and in Canada, Germany, Micronesia, and South Africa.