As time passes further into the holiday season the pace may start to amp up and feel like a race. No time to meet the demands of the season. Days packed with numerous distractions from our normal routine. Wondering if the traditions we’ve enjoyed in the past will bring warmth and predictability or will they end up as one more thing we are obligated to do because, well, it is what we do. Then imagine adding self-care and co-regulation to the never ending list? I wonder if that’s why so many people start January with a “new year, new me” mantra? Could be a way to keep our heads down and get through, hoping we will do life differently when things around us begin to slow down or at least putting it off for a few weeks. Perhaps you could do something now to be mindful with routines and rituals this season instead.
As part of our Room to Move programs we look at ways to incorporate grounding and regulating strategies into daily life. We teach ways to weave brief moments of wellness into the blanket of celebration, family visits, traditions, excitement, disappointment, holiday concerts, travel and more.
Take time to Notice and Acknowledge
Just simply taking the time to pause and acknowledge out loud that there is a lot going on, can take the sting out of the daily demands. When stating what may seem obvious, we contain for our kids what they are experiencing. Try it the next time you start to feel the swirl of stress circle up into your body. Pause and say, “Wow, there is a lot going on right now. We are being pulled in five different directions.” It’s so simple and very powerful. Acknowledgment is an essential part of therapy and is helpful in all of our relationships.
Reset within Routines
We are going to get through the day somehow. If we can take the time to protect our existing routines, we create predictability as an anchor for the season. The routine provides an opportunity to reset the frenzied day. Identify the routines in your home that you know are essential to your family’s well-being and ability to remain connected to each other. You can build from this foundation or maintain the basics, knowing this will be enough for your family’s wellness. Remember the essential sleep routine?. We cannot function well or enjoy a holiday without it. If it is the only routine you can keep, focus your energy on sleep and everyone’s coping mechanisms will be more regulated with all that is added in the weeks ahead. If we are all more regulated and grounded, we can better manage all the stimulation and expectation of the season to really enjoy our favorite traditions.
Observe your holiday traditions with flexibility from year to year as life brings us different qualities and concerns each season. Our seasonal rituals help us move through these unique circumstances with a predictable activity that is soothing, stimulating and reassuring in its impact. At least that’s our hope. For example, I print my own wrapping paper each year. I appreciate the meditative repetition involved in hand stamping a sheet of paper. Some years though, I feel like I’m just doing it to get it done. These years, I notice and acknowledge privately that I’m not really in the “spirit”, and that I am doing it because it is a tradition that I would like to continue. I am flexible in my expectation of completing this tradition and look for pleasure and ability to regulate in the process.
When we can notice and acknowledge verbally and non-verbally, publicly and privately, we change the course of that energy. We are not being driven by it, but are proceeding mindfully when the emotion and the thought are connected. When those thoughts are grounded in the expectation that there are a few rituals that will happen every day regardless of what else the day brings, we can anchor ourselves in these events and create a beneficial reset for the next moment. Entering into the season with a sense of flexibility and understanding that not everything will be checked off. Practicing the skills of co-regulation will create a nurturing environment that will be remembered by our families long after the holiday season ends.