The holiday season doesn’t just wrap up the year, it’s a period when we wave goodbye to the shortest darkest day and invite positive energy into our lives for the new year ahead. This year, discover how to have a truly soulful, love-filled, festive season with our guide to a holiday filled with compassion and kindness.
When we think about the holidays, we often get caught up on grand gestures like finding the perfect gifts, going out for fancy dinners, or stress about spending a Christmas evening with that particular Grandma who won’t stop pinching your cheeks. But, it’s the little day-to-day gestures that build connection and truly communicate how much we care. Taking the time to show you care, to show some kindness, is little effort on your part but the ripple effect goes beyond just you and the recipient. You can count on that.
While the holidays can be fun and happy for many, for some they can be really difficult. Giving back and showing your gratitude during this time of the year can be especially rewarding and really make someone’s day. Even your own, as the magical effect of gratitude goes both ways. When you openly practice gratitude, your perception of the world around you changes. Little roadblocks on your path or other issues no longer have such a large impact on how you feel because your conscious focus on positivity doesn’t leave much room for negativity.
Read on for more on the “happy pill” that is gratitude.
Practice (self) kindness
Whether it’s the pressure we put on ourselves or the pressure we feel others put upon us, the holidays can be quite stressful. From office parties to the umpteenth dinner and of course the penultimate Christmas celebration on the 25th of December, it’s hard to keep your smile and energy up when you haven’t been putting yourself first. Research shows that practicing kindness helps reduce anxiety, boosts satisfaction and prevents illness, whereas putting yourself down elevates your cortisol levels, the stress hormone.
In addition, kindness starts with you. It’s almost impossible to be kind to others when you can’t even bring yourself to be kind to yourself. When you’re feeling stressed and on edge, you won’t be able to see what others might need. And if you don’t see the need, you don’t have that nudge within you to act.
Read on to find out how you can be kind to yourself.
The holidays can be wonderful but they can also be fraught with family tensions. Try this calming meditation to release the stress of family arguments.
Practice (self) forgiveness
Forgiving is not about finding excuses for someone’s actions or pretending it didn’t hurt you. It’s about mercy and goodness, it’s well worth the effort. Learning from errors, be it your own or someone else’s, letting go, moving on and forgiving is important for your health and mental well-being. Practicing forgiveness can help increase your self-esteem and boost your inner strength and sense of safety. It can even help extinguish the emotional wounds left behind, the negative thoughts like we’re not good enough, or lasting feelings of anger. Anger can be satisfying for a time but, if you don't practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly.
It can be easy to assume that everyone is doing well during the holidays, but around this time of year it might be more important than ever to stop and check in with those you care about. Ask meaningful questions and actively listen to their stories. The best give you can gift for Christmas could well be empathy. Weave (self) compassion into your day by spending time together, giving others your undivided attention, and carve out time that’s meant just for you and doing what it is you love.
If there’s a nugget of truth I can leave you with, it’s this: “Life doesn’t have to be perfect”.
A guide to a holiday filled with compassion and kindness
The pressure is on for buying the best gifts, causing more angst than joy, according to a study from 2006. Though the article might be dated, I believe the findings are no less relevant today. So, for the 2021 holidays, why not take a slightly different approach.
- Leave someone a nice voicemail message
- Carve out time to spend together
- Actively listen to their story
- Give someone a call
- Start a daily routine, just for you, that brings you joy
- Treat yourself
- Send someone a self-care gift
- Find a shelter or volunteer organization to help out
- Donate your time (from DIY to babysitting)
- Start a journal of compassion
Have a truly Happy Holiday!