How to Ground in Comfort and Joy this Season

The stockings are hung, the cookies are iced. The blank greeting cards are piled, along with the bills, and the bows and the good intentions, all morphing, as I type, into glittering balls of guilt and stress. Oh, the mid-December sugarplum crash. 

It happens every year. One of the perks of being a mindful, middle-aged yogini, is that I’ve honed a few tricks and tools to bust the slump before I get too Grinchy. I’m sharing them today as my holiday gift to you:

Tip #1: Define what brings YOU joy

What gives you the warm fuzzies at the holidays? Is it baking with a niece? Shopping for a family in need? Wrapping gifts with care and a glass of mulled wine? Maybe it’s the simple aroma of pine, twinkle of lights or crunch of freshly fallen snow. Mindfully note your heralds of joy and journal about the feelings they evoke. These are not insignificant or frivolous; they are your soul keys to the peace and joy of this magical time.

Now, do you make these experiences a nonnegotiable priority? If the answer is “no,” or “sometimes,” I invite you to contemplate how you can make the answer a resounding “yes.”

The sad, grown-up truth? No one else is going to prioritize your joy. When you place a premium on what lights you up, that spills over into the entire holiday experience, for you and your companions. Mall navigation is less stressful, turkey dinner more peaceful. 

If making your joyful moments a priority means sacrificing something else, so be it. Don’t give up your joy, period. 

Tip #2: Review the ROI on your energy expenditures

Yes, I’m advocating taking a business approach to holiday fun. This is not intended to zap the joy. In fact it’s designed to ensure there’s a viable joy quotient in the activities you choose to engage. 

Make a spreadsheet, if you want, or just map out on a holly napkin the activities and expenditures calling on your resources of time and money. Ask yourself what the cost and value of each is. What exactly are you giving up emotionally, financially or physically to make this happen and why? Is it worth the cost?

I personally want to do every family fun activity that comes along, but I’ve looked at the value of holding off on some high-ticket activities until my daughter is older and may appreciate them more (Broadway holiday productions, for instance).  The year my daughter was born, my handmade candy trays for extended family didn’t happen. No one complained. Seven years later, the trays have not reappeared. Last year, my daughter and I made birdseed “ornament” feeders for everyone and had a ball doing it. The joy quotient was met. 

Tip #3: Socialize Strategically

Some parties are awesome and we look forward to them all year, others we try not to think about and attend out of obligation. Does office karaoke or an extended family gathering give you creepy crawlies because of who will be there and how you tend to feel around them? 

If you don’t really need to be there, consider not attending. What would happen if you didn’t attend? Maybe it’s in your overall best interest to tough it out, so go in with a strategy and your yoga tool kit. 

In advance: Journal your feelings around this event and the relationships involved. What beliefs, thoughts or emotions to these people trigger in you when you are together? 

Journal personal, positive affirmations regarding what comes up. Some examples: I am at peace. I am rooted in love. I am strong and independent. 
Spend at least a few minutes in quiet meditation. Revisit your affirmations before you sit in silence.  

Go into the event with an awareness and intention to mindfully observe your social interactions and your personal reactions during the event. Step aside for a few deep breaths mid-event if Aunt Sue sets you off. Journal your observations when you return home. 

Tip #4: Honor the Shift from Dark to Light

The winter solstice on December 21 marks the longest night of the year. We focus on the light aspect, and reference the shortest day of the year. The solstice does mark the return of longer days, just as we enter year-end festivities.

However, the solstice also marks the longest night of the year. The lengthening shadow time leading up to the solstice on December 21 represents a symbolic time of annual retreat, retrospection and hibernation, to revisit, release and restore in anticipation of the light’s return. 

Anticipate the light with joy, but do take some time to retreat and process in quiet solitude. The winter’s solstice is nature’s yearly reminder to take stock and release. 

Psst: If you’re in the NE Ohio area, consider joining me on the solstice for candlelight yoga and meditation. Get the details on Welcome the Light. 

Life is naturally cyclical, and the holidays tend to stir up a snow flurry of emotional cycles. The winter solstice is perfectly timed for a purge and reset before the swing of twinkle lights, mingling and giving. 

Please let me know how these tips work for you and share anything else comes to mind. It’s time to take back your holiday joy. Shine on! 

Journal Explorations

  1. What brings you joy at the holidays?
  2. When and how do tend to overextend yourself at the holidays?
  3. What low-priority items can you drop off your to-do list? 
  4. Big picture, what is no longer working or serving you well in your life? Are you ready to let go or detach from it?