Do you consider “holiday balance” an oxymoron? If decorating, shopping, baking, and entertaining now fill up all your free time, balance may seem elusive, something to save for your New Year’s wish list. It is not only possible to enjoy balance during this month, but it’s also a key ingredient to a happy holiday. The secret, as perfectly demonstrated by a circus tightrope walker, is to make small shifts and slight changes when necessary. This time of year, it may take more frequent adjustments to maintain balance. Here are some suggestions to help keep you on your high wire.
Make a list and check it twice
Feeling overwhelmed by the long list of to-do’s vying for attention in your brain? Free up some RAM by making a list. Write down all the things you plan to do between now and New Year’s. Include things like shopping—specify whom you need to buy for and what you plan to give, wrapping, mailing gifts, sending cards, visits, travel, baking, entertaining, decorating, and attending parties, church services, school and community activities. Now go back over your list with a discerning eye. What are your priorities? What are you eager to do? Are there any activities that you dread? Where could you relax certain expectations? How could you simplify holiday preparations? This year, for example, I plan to: make only one or two batches of cookies, do more on-line shopping, give more homemade gifts, and send a holiday e-card instead of addressing envelopes.
Focus on meaningful traditions
Look at your list and identify the traditions that have meaning for you. Holiday preparations are often dictated by what we’ve done it the past or what our parents did when we were growing up. What traditions would you like to hold on to? What would you like to let go of? Would you like to create some new traditions? Candlelight services, musical and theatrical performances, special stories and meals, can connect us to Spirit and remind us what we are celebrating in the first place.
Take care of yourself
Most of us know what we need to do to keep ourselves at our best. There’s a certain minimum requirement of exercise, natural light, healthy food, and rest that our bodies crave. This is an important time to honor those needs. Colds and flu tend to peak after the holidays, in part because colder weather keeps us indoors where we are exposed to more germs, but also because we are more susceptible to illness when we are run down. Be especially gentle with yourself if the holidays are a sad time for you and if you are still healing from a recent loss.
Keep the joy in your heart
Have you ever tried to write all your holiday cards in one sitting? If so, you probably ended up with a horrible case of writer’s cramp and felt like Scrooge himself. Pace yourself so you don’t hit the wall. Pretend you’ve just swallowed something called a Joy-o-meter that forces you to shut down as soon as you stop having fun. The only way you can resume your activity is by finding a way to make it enjoyable again, perhaps by listening to some favorite music, or enlisting a helper. Or take a break and come back later, after you’ve eaten or rested.
Balance consumption with charity
During economic downturns it’s more important than ever for the haves to share with the have-nots. How well do your checkbook entries reflect your personal values? If you’d like to do more, consider making a gift donation to a favorite charity in someone’s name, dropping off canned or packaged goods for a food pantry, or volunteering for a soup kitchen, or other social action projects.
When faced with tempting treats, lavish spreads, and free flowing wine, it takes ironclad willpower to say no. Unless you know that that one drink or one sweet will turn into a binge, it’s fine to be decadent occasionally. To keep from going overboard, try tiny samples of everything on a buffet, split a dessert with a friend, and pour only half a glass at a time. The best strategy is to know your limits and stick to them. If you overdo it despite your best intentions, forgive yourself, and start anew the next day.
This is rest time in the natural world. Deciduous trees take a break from photosynthesis, and newly planted bulbs slowly send down roots to support future blooms. How can you mirror the natural cycle in your own life? Especially if you have a whirl of social activities on tap for this month, allow plenty of down time to recharge. How about taking a long winter’s nap, curling up with a good book, gazing into a roaring fire, or meditating? Couch time, quiet time, and vacation time can be wonderfully restoring.
Find peace in the present
Catch yourself if you start to worry about what you haven’t done or what’s to come. Gently return your focus to the here and now, for the present is where living takes place. If you let yourself become preoccupied with the past or the future, it’s easy to miss the magic of the moment.
May these tips help you enjoy a happy, healthy, and balanced holiday!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ICF Professional Certified Coach
Grace Durfee is a Professional Certified Coach, Professional Mentor Coach, Coach U faculty member since 2004, Reiki Master Teacher, and author. Grace helps busy professionals and “soul-o-preneurs” move from striving to thriving by cultivating a state of peaceful productivity. As Grace believes in learning by doing, she creates many coaching practice opportunities in class and asks students to come ready to coach and be coached. Prior to coaching, she was an account manager for a communications training company and a stay-at-home mom. You can learn more about Grace at www.balancewithgrace.com or contact her at (440)654-4643 or email@example.com.