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holiday star by itselfFor many years the holidays were a time of tentative joy. While the excitement over shopping, baking, wrapping, and the Advent season sustained me, I had a great amount of fear that all of these good feelings would crash and burn once the holidays were over. The bleakness of January scared me.

January and February are very dark months to this Midwesterner-turned-Southerner. The sun is inching its way back into center stage, but it is still winter and our time to hibernate is not over.

I’ve found that by remaining present to all of the emotions that this season brings up has helped me do a little bit of healing before I feel like I am out of breath and exhausted, waiting for the new year to jump start something in my heart.

winter sceneHere are some simple tips to remain present during the bustle of the holidays and to nurture yourself along the way:

  • Plant your feet on the ground. Whether you are standing in line, are on the phone, at your desk, or ordering a gift, be sure to plant your feet and allow them to root themselves to the spot. You’ll find that that you tap into a secret strength and energy.
  • Check in with yourself and listen. It is very important not only to check in if you feel something amiss in your heart, but to listen to what your body and your heart are telling you. What needs to change, what needs to be heard, do you need more of something or less of something?
  • Go outside. Clarity can come with fresh air. Even if you step outside for a span of a few breaths, doing so will help you clear your head and ground you. Take a walk down your street or around the block. It does not have to be a long walk to get the benefits of being outside.
  • Land in your breath. How often do you find that you are holding your breath? Often this happens when you are stressed or uncomfortable. Take a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth–as many times as needed. Soon you will find your shoulders begin to settle down to their natural place.
  • Practice gratitude. Consider all of the things you have been blessed with whether they be tangible things or intangible. When you shift your mind from what you don’t have or the things on your wish list to what you do have, your heart gets light and you become capable of being more present.
  • Offer yourself compassion, grace, and kindness.
  • Slow down–sure something might not get done, but that is okay. Allow your task to be meditative. Wash the dishes, sweep the floor, fold the laundry, drive to the store with a desire to be in the moment and not two steps into the future.
  • Seek solitude and take as long as you need. This is one thing that we don’t tend to do during the holidays when we are so geared up to be with people, shop, prepare, and spend time with family. It’s okay to step out of the bustle and to find a silent corner to just be in for a spell.

winter heartMay this time be merry and light. Hopefully your joy will be bold instead of tentative as you find your way through the holidays into the newness of the upcoming year.

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