The holidays are in full swing and December days seem to come and go with every blink! This time of year always seems to go by so quickly. All of a sudden it is January 1st and I’m left with a vacation hangover and Christmas decorations covering my home that I’m not ready to take down!
Photo by Studio Eiler @studioeiler
With all of the parties, traveling, and family time, it’s easy to let time get away from us. This season I’m trying to use mindfulness as a way of capturing these scenes as photographs in my memory. I have picked out five times during the holiday season to pause and take a mindful look around at the holiday backdrop before you!
1. On Holiday Road
Visiting with friends and family during the holidays is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. You might have the opportunity to go back to your hometown or travel to new places. The change of scenery can be refreshing and rejuvenating. Traveling can be a major part of your holiday, especially if you are going to more than one place during your travels. It might even feel as if you are spending more time in the car or at the airport than you are at your actual destination! This year, I have really tried to be more mindful when traveling by making this time just as much of an experience as my actual destination.
Take in your surroundings and enjoy the scenery! Christmas lights will be taken off of houses sooner than later, so enjoy their soft glow and decorative presence as you pass them by in your car. When Chuck and I travel from Chicago back to Michigan to see our families, I look forward to these hours of uninterrupted time for conversation.
Keep calm and drive on!!!
Try to stay calm no matter the traffic or the weather forecast, both which can be sources of frustration and anxiety during the holidays. Airports can also be a little crazy! Take a deep breath once you get to your gate or your seat and appreciate where you are going or where you are coming from on your journey.
This is a simple reminder to you that you will get to where you need to be this holiday, and everything is going to be okay! In the meantime, create travel that is memorable, acknowledge frustrations and anxieties, and enjoy the journey as much as the destination on your holiday road!
2. Wining and Dining
So let’s be real and say that this time of the year is an endless spread of sweets, delicious meals, and holiday cocktails. Being mindful during meals and truly enjoying what we are eating and drinking can allow us to savor food that most likely took hours to prepare.
Taking a mental snapshot by engaging all of your senses is a way of practicing mindful eating and will allow you to later recall how delicious that holiday drink or appetizer was long after it’s gone. Pay attention to the smell of the room, the visual presentation, and the textures and tastes of the food that you eat. These mindful strategies allow you to be grounded in the present moment rather than thinking about the mess in the kitchen, the calories that you are eating, or your strategy for cleanup and leftovers.
More than anything, I believe that remaining engaged in conversation and being an active listener with the people around you creates the most memorable dining experience. Whether you are sipping wine with friends, or sitting around the dinner table with your family, try to remember to pause and take in the scene. Look around and take in the scene of everyone enjoying food and drink together, and listen to the conversations that are happening around you. This mental snapshot is one that will stay with you year after year!
3. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Like weddings and birthday parties, holiday gatherings are unique moments when we are lucky enough to have friends and family together in the same room. Schedules seem to align, people are visiting their hometowns, and the cheer in the air brings everyone together. These events can be a whirlwind of conversation, cooking, and gift giving. Your favorite holiday music creates a soundtrack in the background, and decorations and rainbow lights create the perfect ambiance for a room filled with people celebrating this festive time of year.
Whenever I am at a gathering with my friends or family, I always try to take at least one moment to pause and look around at the scene before me. I tune into the music, I pay attention to the expressions and voices of those around me, and I absorb the atmosphere of the room. By allowing myself to be suspended in time even for a second, I find that I am able to truly appreciate the fullness and brightness of the room. These special moments are fleeting, so embrace them fully and make the most of each celebration!
4. Gift Giving
The present is a gift, so what better time to be mindful than when giving and receiving? I absolutely love finding the perfect gift for my friends and family. The anticipation of waiting for them to unwrap the gift and their reaction when they finally tear off all of the paper is the best feeling.
Generosity can come in so many different forms, especially during the holidays.
Mindful gift giving is when we focus truly on what a person needs which might not always be something tangible. As we are traveling and visiting with friends and family, let’s think about what the people closest to us might need in their lives. This might simply be time with you or advice over a cup of coffee. Maybe they have a project they are working on with their house and they could use an extra set of hands. Giving someone a present moment is truly one of the best gifts of all — whether it is support, a helpful hand, or a heartfelt conversation.
5. Feeling Emotion
The holidays can bring up many emotions. Some can be merry and full of nostalgia, and others can be painful or uncomfortable. While we tend to push our thoughts more towards the happy feelings and thoughts that come with this time of year, it’s important to acknowledge every emotion that your heart is experiencing. Pushing aside painful memories and feelings of heartache might prevent us from working through these times of our lives. We might feel guilty for even experiencing them at all during this time that is supposed to be joyful and merry.
Being mindful of our emotions during the holidays can teach us a lot about ourselves and validate feelings that we might be trying to ignore. I am not saying to dwell on these thoughts, but rather recognize that they are present. We all have storm clouds that may linger in the background during this time of the year and bring up certain emotions. Write these thoughts down, talk about them with a close friend, or give your mind time to sort through them without guilt or judgement.
Let’s not forget about those warm and fuzzy feelings that this time of year brings us, too!
Embrace your feelings of excitement and warmth and acknowledge them to their entirety! I tend to think that these cheerful feelings are normal and expected during the holidays. Sometimes I take them for granted. Recognize when you are feeling especially warm and cheery; maybe you are looking forward to an event or dinner with someone that you haven’t seen in a long time. Shining a light on these feelings can make the experience bolder and more memorable!
This time of year is absolutely magical, and can come and go very quickly. I hope that you can find moments to pause and take a mindful look around this season! Create new memories by embracing the sounds, the lights, the smells, and the tastes of your personal holiday!
May your days be mindful and bright!
Happy Holidays from Citrus & Sun!
Wishing you zest & light,