For many of us, this end-of-year holiday season seems more like a long slog through “shoulds” and “ought to’s” and “you’d better…” than an opportunity to experience the best of family and friends. We find ourselves looking more for the light at the end of the tunnel, than the immediate moments of happiness and joy. Today, let’s chat about how we can aim beyond the tunnel.
The end-of-year holidays seem to see a lot of us trying to cram a year’s worth of activities into a few days. There’s the present shopping, the food shopping, the holiday parties that we either feel we have to give, or have to attend. And while we may not spend as much time traveling this year, and our entertaining may be curtailed, we still wind up racing around trying to get everything done that much earlier than usual. Let’s face it, there’s not much fun in that.
What can we do? Like most folks, you probably started prioritizing activities in November. And like most of us, daily life tended to get in the way. The list wound up getting lost on the kitchen counter or the desk. Two weeks later, panic time set in and you needed to turn up your focus in order to finish the list.
Turning up the focus is a great thing, and humans are uniquely built to do this. The downside to focus is that it shuts out everything else. We miss the cues from family members and friends, that they need a bit of our attention, as we rush past them. Nuances get missed. Feelings get hurt. What we want to do is apply scheduled focus, so we don’t miss the truly important things in our lives.
To get the best out of the moments in our lives – holiday ones or not – we want to take time to breathe. In and out, slowly, allowing our minds and bodies to slow down. Check in with our shoulders, to see if they are relaxed, or sitting somewhere up around our ears. Shake the tension out of our hands and arms. Then listen. Listen to all the sounds surrounding us, sounds that we typically miss because our focus is elsewhere.
Now, one more look at the list. We can see the “light at the end of the tunnel” and are actively goal-setting toward it. However, in order to not lose all of our energy as we approach the end of the tunnel, we want to goal-set a bit beyond it. What do we want to do, the day after we reach the end of the tunnel? What does that day look like? It may well look like us asleep on the couch, and that’s OK. What we’ve done is kept our energy and creativity up to get through the festivities without missing anything important – and gotten through the tunnel.