The sense of overdoing and guilt seems to plague so many people. As we come into the holiday season with its temptations of overindulgences of all varieties, I want to offer you some helpful hints. First of all, it is okay to simplify! And at the same time, it’s also okay to experience pleasure!
To start off, remember the real meaning of this holiday season, whether it has any religious overtones for you or not. It may be peace, love, togetherness, sharing, or something else – what does it mean for you?
What is most important to you to experience during the remainder of this month? To pin down the answer to this, you do need to be able to separate your own feelings and wants from your thoughts of what others expect of you. I know that’s easier said than done if you’re not in the practice of thinking that way. What do you secretly wish you could do? And what can you do to make it happen?
It’s okay to not accept every offer and request that comes your way. Decline lovingly (if that’s what you want), stating your intent to create a more un-rushed atmosphere, for example. A lot of people WISH they could do that but feel they can’t. If they see you doing it, it just may inspire them. And it may not, and that’s okay too.
Or maybe there are friends or family that you want to spend time with and somehow it never happens. Make space for it and extend the invitation – do what you can do to make it possible and the rest will be up to them.
If you tend to feel guilt during or after the holidays, what brings it on? Is it from overspending? If so, where can you get creative and give more of your focused presence rather than overdoing the material items?
Is it from overeating? Make a point of stopping regularly to check in with yourself. Learn to discern whether what you want to eat is for pleasure or for distraction or even a way to self-sabotage. Do you truly want that piece of fudge? Have it. SAVOUR IT! Allow yourself the full experience of it. But pay attention – if you’re really listening, you’ll learn when to stop. Often when we ‘scarf down’ the treats, we’re only semi-aware and not totally tasting them. So we naturally want more.
Another trick is to NOT SNACK. I know this contradicts a lot of popular advice out there, but if you look at cultures that have a healthy relationship to food, they do not eat between meals. They eat generous, healthy meals, which sometimes include desserts. That fudge I mentioned earlier? Have it after your meal. If you know you’ll be having a particularly large dinner, eat a smaller lunch that day to compensate, remember to drink lots of water in between meals, and enjoy yourself.
Here’s what I’ve found. When you finally stop to listen, when you pay attention, when you start to focus on your joy, on your values, on what’s important to you… the food cravings and the habits that you later kick yourself for start to fall away. Everything is connected.
Blessings to you this season!