December can be a really enjoyable and joyful time of year, a time when we reconnect with family and friends. There are lots of opportunities to celebrate, catch up and be with those that mean most to you. The holidays give us all the opportunity to share heartfelt thoughts and feelings of gratitude, love and togetherness.
Unfortunately, it can also be an emotional rollercoaster and for some be the most stressful time of year. I’m certain some of you can relate. Do you see yourself in any of these situations?
- Running around buying the perfect gifts, readying the house for an evening (or week) of entertaining, or traveling to visit with family and friends.
- Feeling sad, lonely or alone, missing someone you’ve lost this year, (through death or divorce) or stuck a distance away because you can’t afford the time or money to visit.
- Feeling obligated to go places and spend time with people you’d rather not be around (some of whom might be family!).
For many of us the holidays include all of the above and perhaps even more!
But there is a way to get the most out of your holiday and the end of yet another year. Choose to be present with it all. Live it consciously and with awareness.
What is NOT Being Present
Not being present is most often demonstrated by acts of unconscious avoidance in the form of over-working, over-eating, over-spending, over-indulging in alcohol, acting out, or just generally being busy with unimportant things that leave you run down or exhausted. Have you ever done any of these over the holidays?
Most of us don’t chose to be NOT present, but rather allow other things to take priority over our choice of being fully in the moments of our lives. At the holidays, this unconscious avoidance is widespread. It is also more socially acceptable to “have to work” rather than to go to Aunt Jane’s for a family gathering.
During the holidays, you’re also more likely to run out of integrity and maybe agree to things that you might typically not. That leads to saying, “Yes” to a get together when you want to say “No.” The result is over- committing your schedule while under-delivering emotionally (and then later dealing with all the stress and emotional turmoil that comes with that.).
The most damaging effect of not being present is missing out on fully connecting with your life, loved ones, clients and the opportunities that each moment has to offer in a meaningful and impactful way.
Not being present also creates the illusion that time is moving by swiftly. How many of us have said or heard, “Wow, where did the year go?” If you ever feel that way chances are you weren’t fully present and didn’t appreciate the moments around you.
Being fully present gives you the gift of CHOICE. You decide to not allow your unconscious acts to take you out of presence.
How To Be More Present
Here are a couple of techniques to help you practice being more present.
When things get really hectic or stressful, when you’ve got more plans than time to fulfill them, more presents than money to buy them, more people needing your attention than energy to give them, just stop and take a breath. It is the best and fastest way to reconnect with yourself and the present moment. And while you know how to breathe, following the focused intentions suggested below will make it all the more effective.
Take a breathe. Go ahead, do it. Inhale…fully. More. More. More. You can always take in more air than you think you can. Fill up your lungs and let that stomach extend as you take in a full breathe.
Now hold it for a second or two, then exhale. Now do it again. As you breathe in, RECEIVE. Imagine in your mind’s eye that you already have what you desire; love, support, connection, money, love, peace, freedom, ease, etc. Focus your intention on the abundance that is possible.
Now exhale. Let go. Imagine the stress leaving you and with it the obligations, the ‘must-dos’, the ‘have-tos’ and the ‘should dos’. Let go of all the stress and tension these responsibilities create. Let go of what has been (the past) and what is to come (the future).
Take a moment to just BE. Fully present, here and now. Focusing your intention on feeling the now. To confirm you are in the now, focus your eyes on items around you and calling them out by name in your mind. This mindfulness technique affirms you are in the PRESENT. “I see my desk, I see out the window a beautiful winter day, I hear the sound of my heart beating, I feel the coolness of the winter air.“
Now set an intention for how you want to BE this holiday season. You get to choose. You get to decide.
Be determined to ignore the few extra pounds you picked up over the year and still join in the wonderful gourmet delights of Grandma Jan’s holiday star cookies. Decide that even though you are not able to be with family over the holiday that you will make it one of the best anyway. Choose to not feel like you have to get everyone a lavish gift. Be determined to say “NO” to yet another invite and stay home to enjoy the lights on your tree instead.
You have the power to choose. Exercise it.
While that seems pretty darn simple, it’s so easy to NOT be fully present. Fully present means you will be open to and feel the myriad of emotions. Be present in each situation and really take in all the moments that life has to offer, whether they are great or small.
Go enjoy making your choice and being present.
Present is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your family, your friends and your clients.