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 remember putting up like it was yesterday! With all of the parties, traveling, family time, and entertaining going on this month, it’s easy for time to get away from us. This season, I’m trying to be more mindful of certain moments in order to capture these scenes as photographs in my memory. In this post, I have picked out 5 times during the holiday season to pause and take a mindful look around at the holiday backdrop before you!
Photo by Studio Eiler @studioeiler
5 Moments To Stop And Be Mindful & Bright
1. On Holiday Road
Visiting with friends and family during the holidays is one of my favorite ways to spend my vacation time. You might have the opportunity to go back to your hometown or travel to new places, and 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 between us. Sometimes we try to discover new music or listen to old favorites. More than anything, I try to stay calm no matter the traffic or the weather forecast, both which can be a source of frustration and anxiety, especially during the holidays. Airports can also be a little crazy, but take a deep breath once you get to your gate or your airplane 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 treats and meals that most likely took hours to prepare, and make them into memorable experiences.
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 or tasty that holiday drink or appetizer was long after the moment is gone. Paying attention to the smell of the room, the visual presentation, and the textures and tastes of the food that you eat allows 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 and eating dessert or appetizers, or sitting around the dinner table with your closest friends and family. Try to remember to pause, 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
More than likely your calendar is filled with dinners with friends, gift exchanges, work events, and family parties throughout the month. Maybe you are even hosting a party at your house for your family or friends. 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 family no matter the size, 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, and usually have an easier time reminiscing on this moment in the future.
Like weddings and birthday parties, holiday gatherings are unique times of the year 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 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. I enjoy the anticipation of waiting for them to unwrap the gift and then seeing their reaction when they finally tear off all of the paper or open the box! I always try to fully enjoy these moments of giving and receiving gifts.
That being said, 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 and that they can unwrap. During the next few weeks 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 and what we could do to fill that space in their lives. Maybe it’s simply time with you. Maybe it is 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 might be painful or uncomfortable. While we tend to gravitate our thoughts more to 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 loss or heartache can sometimes not allow us to work through these times of our lives. We might feel guilty for even feeling 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 it can validate feelings that we might be trying to ignore or push away. 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 that bring up certain emotions. We can choose to have those memories and continue living in the present. Write these thoughts down, talk about them with a close friend, or just 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 usually tend to think that these feelings of happiness and cheer are normal and expected during the holidays, and find myself taking them for granted. Recognize when you are feeling especially warm and cheery; maybe you are really looking forward to a certain event or meeting up with someone that you haven’t seen in a long time. Shining a light on these feelings or even verbally acknowledging them 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 throughout the next couple of weeks. 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,