• Jenny Bell

Ten Mindful Tips for this Holiday Season

#christmas #thanksgiving #holidays

Take a page from Charlie Brown and Linus and focus on what really matters during the holiday season, here is how:

During the holiday season there is a lot of pressure on parents. We mainly place it upon ourselves to give our children the best holiday we can. With the advent of social media, the pressure has grown. Now we can see what other parents are doing and that can make us feel inadequate. Combine that with budgeting, the flu season and less sunshine and this can lead to not only feeling inadequate but feeling depressed.

The following is a list of ten ideas to help this holiday season be a more mindful one.

  1. Practice real self-care by listening to your body. So many parents get sick around the holidays because prior to the actual day of the event, they have been running themselves down with activity. Self-care means something different for everyone. But I can guarantee that all of us need to rest more. Letting yourself relax a bit each day can do healing things for your mind, body and spirit.

  2. Question tradition. Traditions don't always remain because everyone likes them. You don't have to do what your parents did and you don't have to do what you did last year unless you want to. Does your family like the traditional holiday food, or would they enjoy something unique? Mix it up and have fun!

  3. Say no to events that don't fill your cup. There are many holiday events and parties to attend but you don't have to go to all of them unless you want to. If you feel pressure to attend more than you want to then come up with an early exit strategy.

  4. Take one thing off your to do list and don't look back. During the holidays there are so many things to do. What is one thing that you really feel like not doing and won't be too missed? Is it a homemade batch of cookies? Is it knitting a scarf? Whatever it is, take it off the list.

  5. Suggest a secret gift exchange event for older family members. There are websites that can do this for you or you can just simply put names in a hat. All the people involved can agree to a price limit and maybe even share three things they would like to receive.

  6. Send holiday cards through text or social media. Some parents put so much pressure on the perfect holiday card that they start planning in the summer. If photography is your passion then by all means carry on but if it's not and the idea of sitting down and writing out envelops sounds exhausting then share a virtual card through social media or text.

  7. Ask your spouse do just fill your stocking. My husband and I started this tradition once we had our daughter. We wanted Christmas morning to be about her so we limit buying gifts for one another to what fits in our stockings.

  8. Ask anyone you are getting a gift for to make a wish list. It may actually be fun for some of the grown-ups to create a Dear Santa letter. I started writing a list each year to make it easier for my husband but I actually enjoy thinking about what I would like now.

  9. Make baking, cooking and decorating a family event. You don't need to make the holiday magic all by yourself. Invite other family and friends to join you. You can even suggest a cookie exchange with friends or neighbors. All you have to do is bake a few batches of one cookie, they do the same and then you exchange. This way, you have a variety of holiday treats but only had to make one.

  10. Your children remember the time you have spent with them not the gifts you bought. The same goes for the elf on the shelf, decorations, holiday meals, etc. It means more to your kids to have you read or play with them then having their elf doing Pinterest worthy things each day.

When I first became a mom, I wanted my daughter's holidays to be amazing. Growing up in New Jersey, I had big family holidays. When we moved to California, they were smaller and I always had to tend with my mother's changing emotions. I wanted to take a million photos, including a fantastic and clever holiday card. I wanted Lucy's gifts to be earth-conscious and intellectually stimulating. I wanted to be able to bake all the best desserts and even learned how to make wassail (which is still a holiday tradition in our home). I put a ton of pressure on myself to make things perfect. And guess what? Almost every year I was sick. I ran myself down so much that I couldn't battle the winter germs. So now, I take my own advice and do what holiday things sound good. We have a few traditions like taking a short hike in between lunch and dessert on Thanksgiving, wearing our pajamas all day on Christmas Eve, and eating homemade Italian food on Christmas Eve to honor my heritage. Remember it's your holiday too and you deserve to enjoy it as much as the rest of the family. Keep it simple and mindful.

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