Gentle. That’s my word for this holiday season.

I know it’s not very festive, but I think it’s critical.

With all the craziness and heaviness that has been heaped on in recent months, we all need to be a little kinder, a little gentler with ourselves (and others too, of course).

The holidays tend to come with their own set of stressors and this year everything just seems a little bit…well, tougher. So, my challenge to each of us—and myself—is to look for ways to be gentler on ourselves this holiday season. 

Here are a couple of ideas to chew on:

1.  Be ruthless about what you say yes to.
Overcommitting around the holidays tends to be our go-to, but this year more than ever we need to guard our calendars and our hearts. Pandemic fatigue, political drama, financial struggles and other 2020 hardships weigh heavily on so many of us and the last thing we need this holiday season is a breathless, jampacked calendar sucking the life right out of us. So, before you say ‘yes!’ to that event, fundraiser, Zoom call, family function (even virtual ones!), or gift exchange, think about how necessary it really is and whether it will serve you and your family well.  

2. Carve out alone time every single day.
Having a little breathing room in your day where you can relax, process your feelings and thoughts, and just find rest is so important all year long, but especially during busy times like the holidays. Whether you sneak into a closet for a few minutes of prayer and meditation (I recently set up a little nook in my master closet just for this!), go out for a brisk walk, or even take a drive alone, spending some time in solitude can reset your soul and allow your body and mind to take a break from the hustle and bustle. 

3. Don’t get sucked into the Pinterest trap.
Elf on the Shelf. Homemade ornaments. Decadent holiday desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I love intentionally creating memories with my family and making beautiful things as much as the next person, but all too often we heap these ridiculous expectations on ourselves at the holidays. This year, spend a few minutes planning and pondering what truly matters to you and your family around the holidays. Maybe consider paring down the activities or honing in on just a few select traditions. The point is to allow yourself margin to be present, peaceful, and enjoy gentle ways of celebrating without running yourself ragged.

No matter how you spend your days as we wrap up 2020, know this: you deserve a holiday season that fills your soul (instead of sucking it dry). And the more intentional and gentle you are with yourself, the better you’ll be able to show up for those you love.

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