This time of year we tend feel more stressed than festive. We run around in the I’ve-got-to-get-it-all-done mode and hardly even notice what it is we are doing. That is a sure way to leech happiness from the season – or any day. Sure, we all have a lot to, but instead of focusing on all that you have to get done, be mindful of all that you are doing. Pause, breathe, nourish yourself and you’ll find the smaller moments take on greater meaning and joy. And, by the way, you’ll still get it all done. You’ll just feel better doing it.
Here are some strategies I use to keep up and still have fun.
Start the day with an intention. Set the tone for the day by declaring how it is that you would like things to go. When I intend, I focus more on the feeling I want to create in my experience rather than specific things I want to occur. Each morning I sit on the edge of my bed and start with “Today, I intend that…” Then, simply fill in the blank.
I intend that I will act lovingly toward others and notice the love in my life.
I intend that I will laugh often.
I intend that I will feel good and relaxed.
I intend that I will go with the flow.
Whatever feeling, attitude, movement you want to create in your life, it starts with an intention. When you set your intention, you set the course for good things to flow into your day.
Get quiet. Yeah. Right. This time of year? Good luck. But, I am Not Kidding. Make quiet time a priority each day. It is a quick stress relief, a mood booster, and, because of the peace of mind silence provides, you’ll actually be a bit more productive when you come back to the noise of life. So, turn off that blasting Christmas music next time you’re in the car and drive in silence. Eat lunch without reading, or listening to music, or doing anything other than eating. Go for a walk without the iPod. Shower and notice the sound of the water drops. In my family it also helps to threaten certain people with severe consequences if they interrupt my shower by shouting through the bathroom door.
Get the giggles. Laugh at the absurd drama and the mistakes you make and the funny Christmas sweaters. Laugh at the upbeat cartoons and stupid jokes, and the Santaland Diaries. Find ways to laugh, even when the chaos is at an all-time high, a good laugh will make everything easier to deal with.
Get up and get going. Exercise helps you sustain your energy levels and fills your body with the feel-good chemicals that diffuse the stress. Go for a walk, rapidly clean the house, hit the gym. Whatever you do, get up and move it a bit everyday.
Find grace. I read a story about the Lego company providing a brick set to a boy who had been saving his money for years to buy it — and I felt better. I saw and elderly couple painstakingly putting up thousands of holiday lights around their house and their yard, for the neighborhood to enjoy. And, I felt good. Notice the marvelous in your life. Look for the things that were salvaged by grace and compassion and love and allow yourself to feel the grace. We are all uplifted when we notice good things, awesome things, marvelous things. We are inspired by goodness. Notice the goodness – even if the crap is happening all around – see the good and pass it on. You’ll feel better. Promise.
Make room for the good to appear in your life, and it will show up for you, even amid the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. It’s there, if only we notice.