Serenity for the Holidays

Shopping, cooking, lots of family time, busy days, and late nights.  It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with everything that’s taking up your time and energy.  During the holidays it’s even more important than usual to remember to relax and enjoy some serenity.  Here are suggestions to make the holidays less stressful and more meaningful.

Priorities and compromises

Most of us make lists during the holidays: gift lists, cooking lists, to-do lists.  Take the time to make a list of what’s important to you, as well as a list of what others want from you.  Sit down with family members and friends and use those lists to form compromises. Negotiate with others to balance what’s best for you and for those you care about.


Be grateful and give others credit for what they are trying to accomplish,especially if they are trying to be flexible or respond to your needs. 


Practice acceptance of others.  Holidays are not likely to change the basic personality and behavior of the people in your life.  Relatives may still be critical,or otherwise difficult.  Plan how you will respond appropriately to the Grinches in your life.  Remember that their behavior does not have to affect your enjoyment of the holidays.

Make memories

Make memories.  Instead of seeking perfection, look for what is memorable.  Maybe the carefully planned dinner turned out to be a disaster, but everyone got a chuckle out of what went wrong and formed a lasting bond.  Take the time to search for meaningful things you truly enjoy, such as holiday music, the beauty of the festive decorations, and the community of others.


Are you alone?  Fill the day with ideas and things that make you happy.  Play your favorite music, eat your favorite food, see a new movie, or watch an old favorite at home.  Plan a home spa day with a long bath, pedicure, and facial. If you want to spend time with others and family and friends are faraway, take the time to volunteer at charity events and find a sense of community there.

Most importantly, relax

Perhaps most importantly, take a few minutes out of your busy holiday schedule to let yourself relax.  Learning to relax isn’t just about finding peace of mind; relaxation also helps your body, mind and spirit repair themselves after working hard every day.  Benefits of relaxation include decreased anxiety, decreased muscle tension pain, reduced fatigue, better sleep, and increased memory, as well as clear thoughts and more effective decision-making. 

To help you find serenity during the holidays, try one of these techniques.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation puts you back in control of your muscles.  Stress often causes your muscles to tense and become rigid.  You can help alleviate that rigidity by focusing on specific areas of your body. Start with your toes.  Tense them for five seconds, then try to relax them for 30 seconds.  Focus on the difference in physical sensation between the two.  Work your way up your body to your neck and shoulders.  Those once tense muscles will begin to relax, and you will feel the relaxation as it progresses up you body.        


Listening to music is so simple, and yet so effective.  Select music that comforts you; instrumentals with no vocals is best.  Play the same piece of music for 10 to 20 minutes.  Relax!


Most importantly, remember you can set the expectations for your holidays. Work with your family and friends to create a holiday filled with memories you make, including times of relaxation and serenity.

Previously published in the Port Planet, December 2009.

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