The last few days before Christmas can find us all in a bit of a “finish-frenzy”…finish the shopping, finish the wrapping…our “still to-do” list in preparation for what is supposed to be the time of “Peace on Earth” leaves us feeling anything but peaceful. If you are in need of some calm amidst the holiday storm, here are 5 things you can do today to regain some peace for yourself and your family as you countdown to Christmas.
1. Start off your morning with gratitude
I “try” to get up early enough to have one cup of coffee before the kids get up, but even if you can get only 10 minutes in the morning to yourself, that is enough time to mentally log (or write down) 3 things that you are thankful for this holiday season. Gratitude is a strong antidote to the holiday “blues”, comparison (the thief of joy), and helps us start our day off in the right mind set. I also find that the more I talk about being thankful for things big and little, the more my children find to be thankful for as well. When we start our day from a place of peace, the rest of the day more easily follows.
2. After gratitude…organize
Even if you are not a list maker, the last few days before Christmas is a great time to implement the power of the list so that those last minute things (and things that are not usually in our regular schedule) are not forgotten. The trick is to limit your list to the three things that you “must” get done for that day. You can choose to then list other items beneath those. I prefer a paper list where I can check items off, but I do utilize my phone alarm all season to help me remember to move Poppy, our elf. (Seriously, remembering to move the elf is like trying to remember the Tooth Fairy…but every single night…for an entire month…).
I know that seems like a foregone conclusion, but research shows that just stopping and taking 3-5 deep breaths a few times throughout the day can decrease anxiety. Ideally, sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in through your nostrils and out through your mouth. Breathe in deeply on the inhale, and try to empty all of the air from your lungs on the exhale. Try to focus on only your breath. If you feel your mind is busy with your thoughts, silently count to 5 on both the inhale and exhale. When I take time to do this at home, I like to inhale essential oils such as Doterra's Peace or Serenity blends.
4. Remember the “How” is more important than the “How much”
This is a take on the “less is more” concept, but focuses on the way we are doing things. By this, I mean your children can remember “How” you baked one dozen cookies with them with a cheerful disposition, or they can remember that you baked 10 dozen cookies with them while being frenzied or short tempered. Take time to make at least one memory with your children or loved one in an unhurried manner.
5. Fire your inner critic
You know the one. The one that tells you the house needs to be cleaner, the gingerbread house grander, and everything perfect in order for it to be acceptable…yeah, fire her. Fire her today. I promise you, no one is going to notice a small housekeeping overlook, a not so perfect baked good, or an stocking that isn't centered. People will notice how you make them feel. Give yourself permission to accept “good enough”, and give yourself and your family the gift of grace.
Bonus: Remember the reason for the Season
If you are a Christian, remembering the Christmas story will take the importance and urgency out of errands, gifts, and wrapping. (If you are not, focusing on people, not things, will help keep you balanced and feeling connected.) Christmas, after all, is a celebration; one that should leave us feeling happy and joyful, not wrecked and ragged.
Wishing you a peaceful and Happy Christmas,
Katie Sullivan, M.S., SLP-CCC is a homeschooler, a pediatric Speech Language Pathologist, a certified life coach, and a mother to five children, including three teenagers and twins with special needs. She shares encouragement, helpful tips, and the occasional craft at her blog My Sweet Homeschool. Katie resides in Phoenix, AZ where she is also the owner of a mini pig named Christina Yangchop. You can follow her on facebook, twitter, and instagram.