Let me start by saying that I’m not a religious person. I was baptized Catholic, but then my mother made the mistake of asking me (at the age of 7) if I wanted to go to Sunday School. Duh. Who would ever voluntarily agree to that?
We went to church on Easter and Christmas Eve to make my grandfather happy, but that was the extent of my church-going-experience.
Decades later, I became a yoga teacher and dabbled in Buddism. That’s probably the most spiritual I’ve felt – sitting on a meditation cushion after an hour of yoga. In those moments of stillness I found a connection to something bigger than myself.
I promise, the holiday part is coming.
Present day, I’m sitting on a train on the way to work. My holiday to-do list is growing, not shrinking. End-of-year work deadlines are pressing down on me. And Santa has to come, for three kids, and my husband’s been out of work for three months.
So, how, with all of this stress am I supposed to be “in the spirit”?
I started by thinking about why I love this time of year – spending time with people I love, celebrating and making other people happy. Family. Love. Joy. All of these things are sacred – at least to me.
So I’ve decided that the way to reduce my holiday stress, is to focus on the sacred things, and have gratitude.
If you follow, read, watch, Brene Brown at all (like I do), you may have heard her say – “Practicing gratitude invites joy into your life.” Or how about, “Practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.”
So when my anxiety started to rise because the inflatable jousting set (it’s really cool) won’t be here until after Christmas, I took a moment and thought – Oscar’s going to be so excited when his gift comes in the mail after Christmas is over.
And when I start to feel a little depressed because my pants are tighter than they were at the beginning of the month, I took a moment and thought – it’s been really nice sharing food and stories with people I don’t see that much. And on Saturday, I can go to a yoga class, and restore myself for the week.
And when I started thinking, I didn’t do nearly enough to bring smiles to my kids’ faces on Christmas morning, I thought, at least I was able to do anything at all.
In the coming months, I hope you’re able to find what’s sacred to you and bring gratitude to it. One thought can make all the difference.