I can’t believe it’s December 1st already. I mean, oh my gosh. How did that happen? I’m anxious already!
Most years, I find myself waking up a bit bummed on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I wake up feeling a bit down. Why? Because it sinks in that my favorite holiday is over again. It’s also a day when my youngest son goes back to college, and when my other kids go back to their respective lives. Ugh.
When the anticipation and excitement of Thanksgiving are behind me, I know that it means the stress of Christmas is ahead of me. It stares me down in a way that makes me feel like I’m out of breath.
I know that I need to take a deep breath as I look ahead to December. I need to ask myself, “How can I do better at managing this time of year? How can I be less anxious? How can I be more centered in joy? How can I focus less on stuff and less on checking my list?” (I don’t just check it twice, by the way. I normally check it at least 500 times…)
I’ve come to realize that the stress and anxiety of the holidays are really of my own making (although all the ads don’t help). But, I can make a conscious choice to change how I handle it all.
I’ve told my kids that “less” is my goal this year. Less stress. Less anxiety. Less running around. Less stuff that ends up being returned. (They don’t believe me, but I’ve told them I’m serious.) Instead, I want more joy. More intimate gatherings. More slow time. More time for wonder and marveling. That’s my goal.
I mean, my daughter is turning 30 in a few weeks! I want to marvel at that. I want to let it sink in because, quite frankly, I can't figure out how it happened!
I’m up for approaching this season differently because, the truth is, my mental and emotional health depend on it. If I want to end 2019 in a place of calm, I know that I have to slow down and center myself so that I can enter the next year feeling a sense of peace. Experience has proven that rushing around and accumulating stuff really distracts me from what I want to be focused on. It keeps me away from what truly matters to me.
What matters is whether I am connecting with those I love. What matters is whether those I love feel calm, connected, joyful, and at ease around me. I want to check in and see whether I am helping others feel good, or whether I am making them feel anxious because I’m on overload and overwhelmed. I know the answer is probably the latter, which is why I want to make a change.
I want to look at these next few weeks as a joy. I want to view them as a gift, not as a to-do list. I want to be more present this time of year, instead of just buying presents. I want to stop just doing, doing, doing, and try to 'be' more. (In fact, that's why we're changing our Sunday 'To-Do' List and making it a 'To-Be' List. We want to make a conscious effort to encourage you to also 'be' and join us in our mission here at The Sunday Paper, which is to build a more caring, compassionate, and collaborative world.)
How do I do this? Good question. I think I have to be more intentional. I think I have to remind myself every day of my intention to slow down and do things differently. I think I have to remind myself every day of my blessings. I think I have to be religious with my meditation practice, which always helps, yet is the first thing I skip when I’m busy. Big mistake.
I’m going to breathe, too. Not shallow breaths like normal, but deep breaths, which studies show calm you down. I’m also going to ask those around me to hold me accountable, and I’m going to delete all those gift guides and e-mails that urge me to buy this and that. Perhaps most importantly, though, I’m going to remind myself that nothing good ever comes from feeling overwhelmed. Absolutely nothing.
Now that I know that, it’s my responsibility not to let myself get to that point. I want to make every effort to spend my time this December in joy, in wonder, in service, and in love. Just writing that makes me feel better already. I’m actually smiling now on a day when I usually feel glum.
Tomorrow, my Christmas tree arrives and I’m going to take my time decorating it. I’m off to a slow start... and that’s a good thing.