Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Scheduling In "Down Time" During The Hectic Holidays

As I start my early mornings in November in quiet meditative practice, my mind occasionally wanders to the upcoming holiday season - searching for the perfect holiday gift, putting together the finishing touches on parties or meals, or working to get those greetings cards out "on time." The seemingly endless family gatherings and obligations sometimes lead to feelings of pressure and stress. It is not surprising to experience both anticipatory anxiety and excitement just in time for "the most wonderful time of the year!" But to be clear, I truly love this time of year. It is a period of excitement and wonder, a time to honor closeness with family and chosen family, a time to preserve religious and cultural rituals, a time to give thanks and gratitude, and, hopefully, a time to monitor materialism. As many of us know, it also is a time for ridiculous over-scheduling! So, to protect myself and my family from being holidayed out and completely mindless, I work to intentionally schedule downtime into this wonderful season. My goal? I want us to remain as calm and as aware of the true beauty and meaning of the season as possible. I do realize that every family is different; while some require consistent down time or alone time, others thrive on non-stop activity and togetherness. But, I think all could benefit from a few moments of daily reflection on the true meaning of the holiday season. As the celebrations draw near, you may be tempted to override the blocked-out quiet time, but do your best to protect it. When the New Year rolls around, you will reflect on your more balanced, more restful holiday season, and be so glad you did!

    To help you along your holiday journey, please feel free to use and share any of the tips below.
  • Adjust your attitude by giving gratitude. The holidays can be a time when you give recognition to those in your life who are important. Performing a selfless act has the transformative power to not only brighten someone else's day, but also to bring a smile to your face!
  • Think outside the box. Many times we find ourselves stuck in the same old, perhaps unenjoyable holiday routines. Break the cycle of monotony and create new traditions with your family and friends.
  • Remember loved ones that have passed. Find a way to honor their memory and celebrate their lives.
  • Don't fall out of your routine. If your daily activities consist of exercise and healthy food choices, don't let the holidays interfere with all of self-care you've put in throughout the year. The key here is to remain consistent with your routine. Of course, you don't want to deprive yourself of all the amazing holiday treats, just keep everything in moderation!
  • Take time to be present throughout your experiences. When you find your mind wandering into the future, gently notice those thoughts and then bring your attention back to the present. Perhaps you can focus on your breath, or on what you are doing in the current moment.
  • Don't live outside of your means. Make a budget for yourself before you begin your holiday shopping. This will help protect you against post-holiday financial stressors and "surprises!"
  • Don't try to take on everything yourself. It is okay to ask for the help of your family and friends. Delegating tasks will lessen your load of responsibility and ease your level of stress.