Pump the brakes (holiday alert)

Christmas Day around the world in 2020 | Office Holidays

Though there is nothing traditional about this year, our mind’s internal “speeding up” process is as we think through the list of to-dos that correspond with the holidays. Forging ahead into the holiday season is hardwired into the fabric of our society. There are so many longstanding rituals to include decorating, cooking, hosting, and gift-giving. Unfortunately, these activities do come with a cost: pressure to make the most of this time of year. Feelings such as anticipation or excitement generate stress hormones just as negative mood states do. Our bodies do not always know the difference between anxiety and enthusiasm because adrenaline or cortisol production correspond with both. This is especially true if we are on automatic pilot and do not insert slow, stable breaths into the equation.

With the numerous crises that have unfolded within 2020, we are called upon to make meaning out of the unthinkable. To rise to the challenge of adopting new beliefs and daily patterns. This inevitably creates space from the fast-paced lifestyle we are accustomed to as well as challenges longstanding assumptions. Rather than employing efforts to desperately grasp onto life as it were, my hope is for you to use creativity to create new traditions this year. At the very least, how can you seize opportunities to embrace flexibility, even as you notice longing for things to be different? How can you pump the brakes as your mind speeds up its incessant chatter? The options are endless and may include slowing down with doing less and challenging our culture’s image of what a successful holiday “should” look like, letting go of extended family interactions that feel more obligatory than fulfilling, or lessening the burden of cooking by supporting your local market offerings.

May this season bring you rest and restoration.