We all know that the holiday season is often synonymous with crammed malls, last minute printed gift cards, and creative in-car wrapping for that Uncle you keep forgetting to buy for. Because of all the prep, the actual events often fly by. Whether it be dinner, watching your nieces and nephews open their gifts, or simply catching up with friends; make it a point to be present in the moment, and most importantly ENJOY it!
1. Take a moment to take it in.
During the holidays, we can often find ourselves flying from person to person, house to house, kitchen to dining room, and thought to thought. Sometimes we find ourselves flying in so many directions that we start to seriously empathize with Santa’s travels. Create some peace and grounding during this process by using this simple “landing” technique when you arrive at your location. When you put down the casserole and find a seat, take a minute to land and be fully in the present. Keep both feet on the ground and start by scanning your surroundings. Quietly notice 3 new things. What 3 things do you see? Go through each sense, and notice 3 more things you smell (garlic potatoes, Grandma’s perfume, burning pie crust...), 3 more things you hear (your nephew’s voice, crackling garlic on the stove, your Aunts debating about Obamacare…), and 3 things you feel (the carpet under your feet, your skin warming from just being out in the cold, the glass in your hand...). This technique only takes a minute to practice, and it can be a wonderful tool in being fully engaged in the festivities. Practice this at the beginning of the night, and again when you catch your mind wandering to whether or not you overcooked the green beans.
2. Keep hydrated!
It can be tricky keeping balanced in a whirlwind of indulgence, but you can have your cake and eggnog too if you do it mindfully. Between the salty foods, Christmas meats, wines, and Nog, it’s super easy to become dehydrated. Common symptoms of not getting enough water include irritability, headaches, muscle soreness, and feelings of overall fatigue. Always drink responsibly, and decrease your Scrooge-symptoms by making sure you pour yourself a glass of water between Nog, wine, or other salty indulgences. Bring a bottle of water in your purse or car as a secondary reminder.
3. The three second hug.
The holidays are a wonderful time to load up on all sorts of feel-good chemicals. Although that sounds a bit shifty, there has been a tremendous amount of research and evidence that hugging increases your levels of oxytocin (the bonding hormone), reduces blood pressure (in effect cutting the risk of heart disease), and even reduces the levels of stress hormone cortisol. “Don’t skip the pie Aunt Greta, just have a hug!” When giving your hugs hello and goodbye, counting (quietly) to 3 will help you be more present in the moment and ensure a true embrace. Research has shown that when a hug lasts 20 seconds, these benefits skyrocket. However, we don’t want to be responsible for making you that family member with the awkwardly long hugs. Best save those for your partner :)
Be safe, be merry, and have a wonderful Holiday Season!
Enodia Center for Balance