Tips to Feel More Peace During the Holidays

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
finding peace in the holidays

Photo by Sebastian Fröhlich on Unsplash

We look forward to this season as “the most wonderful time of the year” and yet we may privately dread the disruption of our normal routines as well as the heightened demands and expectations (shopping, cleaning, decorating, cooking, gathering, entertaining) inherent in the holiday season.

Isn’t it ironic that a holiday rooted in religious traditions of peace and goodwill (for billions of people worldwide) should beget such unwelcome guests as anxiety, disappointment, and depression? This is not what we want but what we sometimes get.

Cultivating Peace

The way to greater peace and enjoyment of the holidays is personal. It isn’t about waiting for demands to wane. Rather, it’s something you can cultivate inside yourself in spite of what’s happening in the world around you. So, let me continue by offering you some suggestions to cultivate peace during this holiday season.

  1. Prioritize self-care

Take breaks from the hustle and bustle of the season by engaging in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Make time for yourself. Go on a walk, listen to soothing music, soak in a tub, read a good book, or spend a few minutes in nature. Such simple activities can help you slow down, clear your mind and restore your inner calm.

  1. Keep up healthy habits

It’s easy to let the holidays become a free-for-all as you forget about your good habits. Although you may want to allow yourself some flexibility from your normal routine, overindulgence adds to your stress and guilt. Therefore, commit to healthy eating, plenty of sleep, regular exercise and mood calming activities like breathing, meditation or yoga.

  1. Simplify your schedule

The holidays are not about pleasing everyone else. It is okay to be aware of your limits. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling not only overwhelmed but resentful. So, give yourself permission to say no to requests or demands from others. Simplify your schedule. You’ll feel good as you’re aware of your needs and feelings and willing to honor your boundaries.

  1. Pay attention to simple acts

Enjoy the simple acts inherent in life or the season by giving them your full attention. You can turn the act of preparing a meal or doing dishes into an enjoyable experience if you give it your full attention. Feel the warm water on your hands and notice the act of scrubbing a plate rather than calling it a “chore” and waiting for it to be over so you can get on to the next thing. Slow down and make what you’re doing now the most important thing and you’ll find pleasure in your moment-by-moment experience rather than waiting for something more entertaining to come along.

  1. Pause and notice your feelings

Pause, once in a while throughout the holidays, to notice your feelings. Start by paying attention to your breathing, your inbreath and outbreath. Then notice any physical sensations in your body, any place in which you experience pain or tightness, lightness or heaviness, warmth or cold, and so on. Then turn your attention to your feelings. Are you feeling neutral? Agitated? Worried? Allow your feelings without fighting, resisting or acting on them. Doing this helps calm your mind and body. You also grow in emotional maturity as you allow yourself to feel the range and depth of the human experience.

  1. Practice Gratitude

There is a lot going on during the holidays—some “good” and some “bad,” some hard and some joyful. You get to decide what you focus on, what you magnify in your mind. Why not focus your attention on the things that you’re grateful for? You’ll enjoy the season far more if you cultivate an attitude of appreciation and gratitude, seeing what’s right rather than what’s wrong with life and those around you.

  1. Reconnect with deeper meaning

It is all too easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the season and forget the purpose and meaning of the holiday. For many people, that meaning is deeply spiritual. One pathway to personal peace is to stay connected to the meaning of the holiday by setting up rituals and routines to remind you of why you celebrate the holiday in the first place. Of course, this will differ from person to person or family to family. It may be about the birth and life of a Savior. It may be about connecting with loved ones and family. It may be about a spirit of goodwill and service. Take time to ponder what it means to you and then let that meaning become central to how you express yourself during the holidays.

  1. Engage others at a deeper level

The holidays are a time we spend more time with family and love ones. Who do you want to connect with? How can you make that happen? Start a conversation by being curious and asking questions of this person. Then listen deeply. Help them feel your love and presence. The conversation doesn’t have to be deep to be meaningful. Just notice the joy in your heart as you let go of your self-preoccupation and show up for someone else.

  1. Be realistic

The holidays don’t have to be perfect. Can you make it okay when things don’t go as hoped—a shopping expedition, a holiday party, the dinner you planned, not being able to see a family member, a child’s reaction to a gift? Peace comes not because things go your way but as you accept things as they are. Perhaps the holidays are an opportunity to notice and let go of some entitlement around your “shoulds” as you learn to embrace life as it is.

It’s up to you

The holidays will come and go. How you experience them is up to you. You can find greater peace and joy as you slow down, and choose strategies to enjoy the season in a more mindful and meaningful way.


About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit www.rogerkallen.com>.

4 responses to “Tips to Feel More Peace During the Holidays”

  1. Bob wynne says:

    This list will certainly be useful during this upcoming Christmas and new years week. I will reread daily as a reminder to what and who are important in my life as I move forward into the coming year

  2. Krista says:

    I love this. Everything you say is doable Roger.
    Thank you so much. I will be using this too.

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