Tuesday, December 1, 2015

8 Ways to Have a Peaceful Christmas

“Christmas now surrounds us, happiness is everywhere. Our hands are busy with many tasks, as carols fill the air (Shirley Sallay).” Yes, it’s true that we’ll never be as busy as we are now during the holidays, but is that really what the season is all about? Instead of driving yourself crazy with all the errands you need to run here and there, check out our suggestions on what you can do to get some elusive peace of mind this Christmas.

1.Stay focused.

Achieving calmness amid the chaotic holiday season is all about mindfulness in daily life. An open and easy awareness of what is currently around you helps immensely for making sure you don’t feel rushed this season. When you’re wrapping presents, try to enjoy the moment as it is—wrap those gifts with love and devotion, instead of letting your mind wander off to all the other chores you need to do right after.

2. Breathe.

Ground yourself and take slow breaths for when you panic. Be aware of how your body feels at the moment. Do a full body scan of your physical state, and relax your muscles. You can listen to music for some guided meditation if you like, but at its core, just remember to breathe in and breathe out. We often underestimate the power of the wondrous air around us. Breathe in all the beauty and gratitude around you with every inhale, then let go of all your anxiety with every exhale.

3. Set your goals this Christmas—and be realistic.

First of all, tell yourself that you’re going to chill this year and not be so frantic over everything. Second, plan out how you’re going to do so by setting up realistic goals and sticking to that plan. For instance, limit yourself to a couple of parties only instead of going to each one just because you feel compelled to do so. Limit your shopping, your decorations, your food, and your overwhelming Christmas list. Learn how to say no to the things that don’t truly matter, and say yes to the ones that really do. Just ask yourself, “Am I really going to feel at peace doing this particular activity? Will it matter to the people that I love the most, and will it mean spending some enjoyable quality time with my loved ones?” If the answer is a resounding yes, then by all means, go do it. But if you’re feeling “meh” about any of it, then refuse. Cut yourself some slack—you deserve it.

4. Simplify your holidays.

Everyone wants to go all out this season, but if you learn to embrace simplicity in everything that you do, you’ll find yourself at peace. You don’t need to painstakingly hand-wrap every gift under the tree. Simply pick out a nice paper bag, or better yet, opt for gifts that already have nice packaging. You can also go for mason jars to place your presents in. As for your shopping list, stop torturing yourself with trying to come up with the perfect gift for everyone. If you really can’t figure it out and you’re not a big fan of surprises anyway, just ask the person what he or she wants directly. When cooking, follow simpler recipes. Basically, you need to slow down and get rid of all the excess. If there’s a way to simplify things further, do it. It may be difficult for you to break off the habit of wanting to please everyone with the best of everything, but once you get the hang of it and start with the small things, you’ll soon find that life is easier around the holidays that way. After all, gifts don’t need to be fancy—they simply need to come from the heart. “Christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect (Oren Arnold).”

5. Go for the bare necessities.

Minimalism is challenging in the season of excess, but it really shouldn’t be so. Instead of trying to accommodate every single Yuletide tradition, just ask your family which ones matter most for them. Your loved ones might not be able to live without a Christmas tree, or they might say that the one thing they want is to gather around and tell Christmas stories. By knowing which activities your family members want the most, you can forego all other traditions and cut down your hectic to-do list by half. Or better yet, create your own family traditions. If it’s simpler and more enjoyable, then why not? Who says you have to stick to every classic holiday custom?

6. Schedule things in advance.

Nobody wants to cram during the holidays, and to make sure that you keep that procrastinator in you at bay, plan out your schedule in advance. If you want personalized Christmas cards, order them ahead of time. Pick out those photos and get them designed before the big holiday rush. Shop for your steaks or cookie doughs earlier and stock them up in your fridge. Book those caterers and order those food trays in advance, too—you wouldn’t want to risk running out of food to serve and scouring the grocery stores for leftovers on Christmas Eve!

7. Ask for help.

There’s no shame in asking for some assistance especially during this crazy season. Achieving calmness and peace of mind is no easy feat—which is why getting some support from your loved ones is very important. For big get-togethers and feasts, have everyone pitch in. Someone can be in charge of preparing ingredients and chopping, while another can be the official decorator. One can do all the cleaning, while another can keep guests busy with the entertainment. You can also have a potluck system for your reunion. Whatever you decide to do, rest assured that your loved ones will be happy to contribute, help out, and give their time and effort to you. It is the season of giving after all, right?

8. Keep Christ in the center of your celebrations.

Christmas isn’t Christmas without the purpose of it all. The best way to have peace during the holidays is to realize that amidst all the chores and insanely long checklists, Christ is the reason for the season. What’s important is that you spend time with family, reconcile with old enemies, give to charity, and pray. “I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why, this is Christmas Day (David Grayson)!’”

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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