By: Jennifer November, ND
Dashing through the snow… on my way to finish the holiday shopping, wrap the gifts, bake cookies, back to the store, company party, mail the cards… phew, where did the holidays go?! So many expectations to have the “perfect” holiday season complete with all of the trimmings, that often the months of November and December fly by in a blur. The following are three ways to make sure you enjoy and stay present through this holiday season.
Tip # 1: Figure out what you love most about the holidays and embrace it.
Is it gazing at the twinkly lights on your neighbors’ houses? Is it lighting candles on the menorah? Or baking something festive? What is the thing that really makes the season magical for you? Give it some thought and plan ahead to thoroughly ENJOY that one thing. Turn off cell phones, televisions, and computers (if applicable), take a deep breath and spend some time (even 15 minutes) savoring the thing you love most about the holidays. Let your family and friends know that this time is set aside as special. They can join you and appreciate alongside or participate in their own special, separate activity — whatever enables you to really live it up!
Tip #2: Shift the focus from consumerism.
It is said every year to shift the focus of the holidays away from the frenzy of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and an exclusive focus on presents, and toward experiences, traditions, and enjoying one another. If you haven’t already, this is the year to embrace it. With change on the horizon for our country, (whether you find this change good or bad), embrace the peace and love that the holidays can bring. Spend some time with your religion of choice if that is what brings you peace. Catch up with friends and family. Or, volunteer by helping others who may need assistance in some way during this time of the year. Reach into your heart and figure out what brings you and others peace, and then, share the light.
Tip #3: Take deep breaths throughout the day.
It is easy to get overwhelmed. When it feels like you’re on the verge of hitting your “max”, step back from the situation at hand and take three big, deep breaths. If you can, close your eyes. Then inhale though your nose to a count of five, and exhale out your mouth to a count of five. Do this three times. Breath deep into your belly, letting it expand on the inhale and deflate on the exhale. Let your mind focus only on the breaths you are taking. Give it a try now as you read this article, so you are practiced and ready to go when the time arises that you need it.
Deep breathing engages your parasympathetic nervous system, bringing calm to your body and mind. Think you don’t have time? This exercise takes 1-2 minutes, so feel free to practice it regularly throughout your day. Even if you do it every two waking hours, that equates to somewhere around 10 minutes on average in an entire day, dedicated to breathing. Not a bad way, or huge time commitment, as a means to keep your sanity.
This time of year only comes around, well, once a year. Do your best to not get swept up in the chaos, savor the parts you love and take deep breaths through the parts you can do without. And most importantly, enjoy your holiday season!
Dr. Jennifer November is a naturopathic doctor currently practicing at Naturopathic Family Medicine in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. She believes in health empowerment and her patients playing an active role in their wellness. Dr. November enjoys working with patients of all ages, with particular focus on women’s health and preventative medicine. Treatment recommendations integrate diet and lifestyle modifications, botanicals, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and energetics.