Julie Andrews, in the Sound of Music, was clearly onto something when she burst into song in the face of the fearful, complaining, if not downright rowdy, little children that surrounded her during a thunderstorm. As she sung the whimsical lines, one by one, joy readily replaced the distressed expressions on the little faces.
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things”
Well, this time of year we may find ourselves more often singing to the tune of ‘bah humbug,” easily becoming overwhelmed by our own proverbial holiday storm. How do we stay engaged but not succumb to the pressures and wind up being useless and frayed? Why not try the following ideas?
- Create a list of what you are grateful for. You can involve your children, whatever their age, and come up with a compilation of what your collective family appreciates. Remember, no item is too small.
- Set up notes on your phone, calendar, or personal device to remind yourself of these things. Regular reminders will give you a fresh opportunity to refocus and catch yourself before you get too off track.
- Keep your eye on the ball. Reflect on the importance of this time of year for you. Post a sign to remind you not to limit your focus to certain activities and holidays but rather maintain your attention on what your whole family finds meaningful.
- Don’t forget others. The media and celebrated sales create a false sense of urgency that makes it easy to focus on buying. At first there was black Friday, then cyber Monday. Now, those deals go on for a week, stores open on thanks giving day, and we’ve added green Tuesday and small business Saturday! Consider gifts that give back in some way. One woman, was torn between her desire to make donations to charities in lieu of gifts and her family’s concern about the impression that the lack of gifts would make. She compromised by gifting goods from which the proceeds all went to a charity.
- Give away your favorite things! Donating excess belongings and sharing with others has been shown to boost our mood. So you can help others and yourself.
- Practice is perfect. The more you begin to look at experiences this way, the less you will focus on what is wrong in your life. “So then, when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when you’re feeling sad, just think of a few of your favorite things, and then you won’t feel so bad.”
So, perhaps before all the “holiday cheer” knocks you off balance, consider creating a list of things, experiences, and people that you not only enjoy but are grateful for this holiday season- and sing it. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself with an entourage of gleeful little children frolicking about.
Remember, as with all teaching, the people around us learn more via our example than through lectures. Yes, even little ones pick up on cues from body language and tone of voice much earlier than they are able to verbally communicate. So, make sure you are modeling appreciation at the same time you are discussing the ways you experience gratitude.
For more holiday stress tips read Tips from a Doctor-Mom. For further reading on the concept of interconnectedness check out our article on secret admirers. Readers who are interested in learning more about the science behind applying mindfulness and self-awareness for habit change are invited to check out Dr. Klich’s website MyMindfulwayoflife.com