As the holidays approach, I feel electricity buzzing in my bones. It’s like the intensity that builds before a big storm.
I dread the onslaught of obligations, small talk, and get-togethers that feel less-than-fulfilling. Without realizing it, I follow the stampede of holiday busyness into a vortex where I schedule myself silly.
Many years, slumped over in exhaustion, I have asked myself: does it have to be like this?
Because when I look to nature, she is doing the exact opposite of ramping up for a slew of sequined events—she is getting quieter. Darker. More restful.
My heart clangs with frustration because I long for this, too. After a busy year, I yearn to slow down and just be.
Sometimes, I forget how. But when I remember that rest is actually an option, I am in awe of the striking red of a cardinal against a sprawling canvas of white snow. I fall in love with quiet and peacefulness all over again.
In these moments, I realize it doesn’t have to be either/or.
What you have before you, then, is a daring and delicious quest in opposites: to participate in holiday events as you are able—and take a cue from nature to rest and slow down.
This doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With some simple strategies and shifts, you can support yourself mindfully throughout the season and beyond.
Start with Your Body
Mindfulness is not just about your mind, but about re-establishing connection with your sweet flesh and bone. Then, slowing down becomes more than a mere idea—it becomes an embodied experience.
What is it like to move in slow motion—to brush your teeth, wash dishes, read, hug a friend, or comb your hair at half-speed?
As you try this, tune into the sights, sounds, and scents around you.
Go ahead—notice your feet kissing the floor, feel a cozy sweater draped around your shoulders, inhale the scent of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts, and delight in the songs of trees swaying.
Let your mind, body and spirit bask in the sensations. As you do, you’re exploring the vast realms of your senses—and the caramel-like richness available in each moment.
It can also be sweetly life-changing to take care of yourself in a more embodied way—noticing the sensations of hunger, thirst, the desire to be alone, to sweat, to sleep, to soak in a hot bath.
What is it like to read your body like a map—and then graciously give yourself what you need?
Your Magical Breath
When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, come back to your breath.
Your breath is beautiful, for it is the ocean that sculpts the landscape of change that emerges from moment to moment. It can also remind you that the nature of life is change—like wild waves crashing upon a sandy shore, coming and going.
To tap into this transformative and calming power, breathe deep into your belly, allowing your lungs to fill completely. Notice fresh oxygen flooding your cells, pause briefly, then exhale slowly through your mouth.
Take your time and repeat this for 10 steady breaths. If you’re feeling frisky, stick your tongue out like a fierce lion as you exhale. Be enlivened. Let go.
Cultivate Your Warrior Mindset
Throughout it all, you can cultivate a warrior-like curiosity.
This season often comes with chaos, feeling short-tempered around difficult family members, painful memories, or travel plans gone awry. It can feel tender, like nothing is in your control.
You can lean in. You can sit with the tenderness, frustration, anger, and fear—this is bravery.
Because when you lean in, resistance softens. Then, you become more receptive to the gifts that appear in the raw moments when you least expect it.
In this, you can remember that you do have some control. You can craft your experiences in how you respond to them. You can say no and set some awesome boundaries. You can take time alone to close your eyes and be. You can drink in the brilliance of laughter with your loved ones.
The amazing, heart-melting bonus is that you can still show up for yourself when you forget these things, too.
Then, freedom gushes in like the most delicious breeze.
You sink into the magic that is alive in the present moment. And you find the balance that seems elusive: You can be with others without forgetting yourself. You can be active and remember to bask in rest. Both are possible.
Maybe that is the most magical thing of all.