16 Dec Maintaining Inner Peace During the Holidays
Have you ever seen Home Alone? There’s a scene in which the family has overslept and is late for the airport, and the whole household is running upstairs, downstairs, and back up again to hurry and pack their things. Family holiday visits can sometimes feel this frenzied and chaotic. For example, we may feel overwhelmed with holiday tasks, like shopping, cooking, and cleaning. To make things more challenging, just interacting with family members with whom we don’t necessarily get along can leave us feeling frazzled and emotionally exhausted.
Perhaps the most helpful way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed by your family has less to do with your interactions with them and more to do with your interaction with yourself. Amidst the chaos, make time for quiet meditation—even just a brief five minutes—to center yourself at the beginning or end of each day. I know this can be difficult, especially if you are a parent of a young child or managing all the holiday cooking. But meditation can mean the difference between a family visit that feels like a hurricane of insanity and a family visit that feels like a stiff breeze of insanity.
Even if you find yourself sleeping on an air mattress wedged between a cousin on a couch and brother on a twin bed, steal away to the backyard, a bathroom, or even a big closet, and take five minutes to quiet your mind, plant both feet firmly on the ground, and focus on your breathing. Breathe in, breathe out. Pay attention to the way the breath feels, coming in through your nose and out of your mouth. If you find it difficult to quiet your mind, remind yourself that this visit is only temporary, and that you’re safe in your body. Feel your feet, anchored to the earth. Breathe in, breathe out.
If you worry about losing track of time, set a timer for yourself so you can fully relax. When the timer goes off, before entering back into the fray, try remembering one good family memory you all have together. Perhaps you had one particular vacation that was your favorite, or a fun summer barbecue or block party when you were little. Try holding that memory with you throughout the day to remind you that even if they get under your skin, you have created wonderful experiences together that helped make you who you are.