Our focus for the month of December is #Calm. This month can feel harried and crazy, even if it is filled with stuff we really want to do. And of course, every month has bits and pieces of things that we might not really want to do.
Today, we want to share a recent article by Deepak Chopra: How to Remain Calm and Cool During the Holidays.
Deepak shares tips that are very user-friendly. We encourage you to see what tips can work for you and how they can apply to your children as well.
“Getting through the holidays well is part of being on your own path. What works at this time of year is the same as the rest of the year, except that you need to be more mindful of pitfalls and possible stresses.
Stress over-stimulates the body-mind, throwing off its tendency to remain in dynamic balance. “Dynamic” means that your body-mind is responding from moment to moment. “Balance” refers to a state of homeostasis that functions through many feedback loops to keep dozens of processes in sync.
For most people, the over-stimulation of the holidays is seen as negative—the proverbial drunk uncle at Thanksgiving, the predictable family squabbles, the worrying over extra expenses, and the sudden jammed-packed schedule filled with too much shopping, parties, etc. But to the body-mind, the stress response is equally triggered by over-stimulation on the positive side. Stress experts call this “eu-stress,” where “eu” is the Greek word for good. As anyone knows who has organized and cooked a big holiday dinner, it’s a stressful job even when the dinner turns out beautifully.
Here are some tips to keep calm and cool during the holidays.
1. Avoid an Over-Stimulated Body-Mind State
The first thing you need to do is to avoid putting the body-mind into an over-stimulated state. The key points are:
Don’t take on more than you can handle.
Ask for help from everyone who is part of your holiday.
Get enough good sleep.
Avoid too much alcohol.
Parenting Power: This is our turn to highlight the importance of maintaining clear routines with our whole family about sleep, meals and even exercise. Are you likely to have one or two late nights? Could be. Does that mean that you let the sleep schedule run away from you. No – it really doesn’t have to at all. The clearer you can be around this ahead of time, with your kids, the better it will be for everyone. The same goes for food, and exercise which really contribute to self-preservation.
“2. Reduce Self-Created Stress
Next comes psychological stress, which for many people is cumulative. As the holidays approach, there is a worry and expectation that bad events from the past will likely repeat themselves. This is a form of self-created stress. When you see its signs, sit down, take a few minutes to center yourself, breathe deeply, and if possible—meditate. Your goal is to avoid getting into a self-generated state that remains in psychological overdrive.”
Parenting Power: It is so easy to fall into the habit of negatively predicting the stressful outcome of an event, especially if we have lived it previously. Is there a new thought that you can plant in your mind about how the event will go? What about how you are talking about it with your family?
“3. Maintain a State of Calm Felt Throughout the Year
You want to maintain the state of calm and control that you enjoy at other times of the year. The key points are:
Take extra down time and inner time rather than less. Aim for at least six small breaks of 5 to 20 minutes a day where you can be alone, quiet, and centered.
Know your boundaries and ask others to respect them. When a situation is about to arise that will put a burden on you or stretch your coping skills, speak up and ask for help or support.
When you find yourself in a stressful situation that you can’t fix, don’t try to force a solution. Step away. You are under no obligation to stress yourself or add to the stress of others.
Make sure you are not the stressor. Whatever you wouldn’t want others to inflict on you, don’t inflict the same on them.
Avoid the temptation to rehash old battles and open old wounds. If either starts to happen in your presence, walk away.”
Parenting Power: Are there unhelpful family habits that pop up when the kids are off school, with lots of time on their hands? Are you expecting your kids to help clear the table? Do you want them to be helping with specific chores? Now is the time to get clear in your own head about this and then you can put a plan in place. Maintain the calm expectations of the rest of the year. Clarify what you need, and work with the kids to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding. We’ll dig deeper on this in the weeks to come.
“4. Practice Calming Techniques Beforehand
Now you know the general guidelines for being calm and mindful during the holidays. Since most people forget to follow these guidelines, there’s a good chance that they will fall into the category of good advice or “If only I had remembered to…” The key to implementing a better strategy is to practice it beforehand.
Visualization is a considerable help in this regard. Most holiday difficulties are predictable. You, your family, and everyone you know has been through them multiple times. Use this foreknowledge to your advantage. Try this visualization meditation to help:
Sit and visualize a typical holiday situation or predicament.
See it vividly in your mind’s eye, and watch the elements play out, whether the circumstances are a crowded grocery store with long lines, an impossible wait at the Post Office, a political disagreement at the dinner table, or anything else that causes you to feel tense just thinking about it.
As you visualize, breathe deeply and let the scenario play out while you remain centered.
Repeat this a few times until you feel less sensitized and stressed by what you see in your mind’s eye.
Now be pro-active with your visualization. See people moving and acting in a different way according to the outcome you’d like to see. Perhaps you arrive at the grocery store at an off hour, have a pleasant conversation with someone next to you in line, and act cheerfully toward the cashier. At the dinner table when someone touches on a sensitive political (or personal) issue, see yourself excusing yourself from the table and taking time out. Or see yourself asking others if they want to join you in a taking an after-dinner walk.
The point is that the holidays box you into old conditioning and patterns of behavior that may make you feel stuck. Everything discussed in this article, including the visualizations, is about getting unstuck. Until you see and act on new possibilities, they can’t unfold. Remember, everyone feels as if they are boxed in during the holidays, so no one else is to blame. When everyone is stuck, to some degree or other, it’s your own responsibility to get unstuck. In this way the holidays become part of your own path to renewing yourself and exploring the creative side of your consciousness.”
Parenting Power: Owning how we set up the holidays, along with how we respond (rather than react) to the family dynamics is a bit part of parenting.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
Did any holiday scenarios immediately come to mind while reading these steps?
Which of these four techniques will I put in place?
What do I want from my kids this holiday season?
How will I prepare myself for one or two “itches” that are likely to flare up?
How will I prepare my kids?
If you are curious about what strategies you can share with your kids, we are always here to answer your questions and give you real life parenting tools.