Shonda Moralis MSW, LCSW

Breathe, Mama, Breathe

Mindful Holiday Hack: Schedule in the Downtime

Take a breath and give yourself the gift of time.

Posted Nov 21, 2016

Aga Putra
Source: Aga Putra

As I sit down to meditate these November early mornings, my mind promptly wanders to the upcoming holiday season — the parties, the meals, the festivals, the gifts, the cards. A barely palpable tightness in my chest accompanies that subtle, yet familiar, feeling of anticipatory holiday anxiety and excitement. With curiosity and a bit of amusement, I notice these thoughts and body sensations and redirect my attention back, once again, to the breath. In and out, in and out. And so it goes for the next twenty minutes until my meditation session is concluded for the morning. Welcome to “the most wonderful time of the year!”

Don’t misunderstand, I love this time of the year. Both of my children were born in December — one mid-month and one on Christmas morning — therefore, it is a lively time of the year, indeed. It is also a time for celebratory-togetherness, ritual-preservation, gratitude-giving, materialism-monitoring, and as is often the case, over-scheduling.

Which is why, as the holiday invitations and activities start to pour in, I sit with my calendar, pause, and deliberately schedule blocks of down-time each week. I know from experience that if I don’t, the infinite wonderful holiday plans will soon take on a life of their own, leaving my family stressed, overwhelmed, holidayed-out, and not at all mindful of any of it. Definitely not what I am going for. 

Granted, every family is different, requiring varying amounts of quiet and alone time. I know some who enjoy virtual nonstop activity and togetherness. Around my house, though, all four of us introverts require some quiet time daily to optimally recharge our social holiday batteries. 

And so I encourage you to take five minutes right now to schedule your holiday downtime. In ink, not pencil. As the celebrations draw near, you may be tempted to override the blocked-out time, but do your best to protect it. I’m quite confident when the New Year rolls around, you will reflect on your more balanced, more restful holiday season and thank me. So, let’s just take care of it now: You’re welcome. And Happy Holidays!