Do you struggle with feeling the traditional holiday cheer this year? Many people do – this Christmas is going to be nothing like before. So how to tune into the holiday spirit in these hard times?

I was relaxing on my couch last night watching something on YouTube. Unrelated to anything I was watching, I felt these words in my heart: breath is grace.

I think this made an impact on me since I’ve been feeling the weight of the typical holiday cheer looking so different this year. It feels weird living in a world that’s normalizing face coverings in the grocery store; with local shops and businesses closing down because of the economy.

It feels un-human: Social distancing. Face coverings. Nose swabs. Everything.

I’m not saying this because I disagree with the protocol—I don’t—but merely because I am trying to live a normal life in a very abnormal time in history.

But then I remember: every breath I’m given is a symbol of grace. The grace to be alive. The grace to be present. And the grace to choose hope. So even amidst times that feel a little bit lonelier and quieter, there is grace.

How to Be More Mindful and Bring Holiday Cheer This Year

Below are 5 interactive ways to step into this “space of grace”—by slowing down and being more mindful:

1. Create A Mindful Journaling Routine:

Before writing anything down, close your eyes and take an inventory of yourself. Are you feeling tense anywhere? Is your jaw clenched? Are your eyebrows furrowed? Howʼs your energy? Just observe, connecting within, before jumping into action.

When you feel centered, begin writing whatʼs on your mind: how youʼre feeling, your goals, dreams, stressors, something youʼre grateful for. Once youʼve finished writing, close your eyes again and take a brief inventory. Do you feel more clear-minded? Did you drop any tension during the exercise?

When you keep a journal, youʼre able to see patterns in your own self. I recommend reading what youʼve written once youʼre finished as this will help you process. Deep desires in your heart rise to the surface more easily. Things that are causing extra stress will be brought to your attention as they recur in your journal entries.

It’s easy to roll out of bed or take any spare moment and scroll on social media. But make time—preferably morning or night—to connect within. Remember: this is a time to connect with yourself.

Donʼt put pressure on yourself to write anything profound or deep. You could simply jot down how you slept and what youʼre grateful for. Keep it simple. Let your heart guide you!

2. Try Something New:

Try a new recipe. Start learning the guitar. Make your own candles. Listen to a new genre of music. Paint a picture. Engage your mind with something new that sparks your innate creativity.

You heard that right. Your innate creativity! Whatever appeals to you: go with that. Try and stay off social media while you do your hobby (unless youʼre googling fun things to do ;).

It never ceases to amaze me how trying something new—whether itʼs a new recipe or learning a new song— creates more space inside me. A new sense of clarity and ease. Itʼs like a cup of tea for your soul: cozy and uplifting. And it may help you feel the holiday cheer too.

3. Find Deeper Ways to Connect:

I’m aware that not everyone is as obsessed with the Enneagram Personality quiz as I am (I swear it read my soul!), but consider ways you can learn more about yourself and connect deeper to those around you in an interactive way. Maybe take a personality quiz with a friend and then read each otherʼs profiles.

Or, if youʼre rolling your eyes at the thought of doing a personality quiz, think of a few deeper questions that you can ask a friend, significant other, or family member.

Connecting deeply and having meaningful relationships is all about the quality of the time spent, not the quantity (especially during these times of social distancing and masked faces). Make those memories count!

4. Choose a Quote, Prayer, or Mantra:

Words are powerful. Words can inspire, ignite, and remind you of simple truths. Pick out a quote, mantra, or prayer that speaks to you. Write it down somewhere you will see it and read it every day. Pick out a new one when you feel the need for another reminder. My go-to is the ever beloved “Serenity Prayer.”

The Serenity Prayer has helped guide me through many different life seasons. It goes:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

You can be as creative and fancy with how you write your quote, prayer, or mantra or as simple as you like. The key is: choose something that speaks to you.

5. Stretch:

As a certified yoga instructor, I may be a little biased as to why having a stretching routine is so beneficial. But donʼt take my word for it—try it for yourself. Even 5 minutes first thing in the morning not only tunes you into your body but also awakens your mind in an easeful way.

Try this:

Sit up in bed (or on a yoga mat) with your legs crisscrossed. Slowly start rolling your head to the right. Repeat 3 times in each direction. Then make loose fists with your hands and circle your wrists 5 times in each direction. On an inhale raise both arms to the ceiling and on an exhale bring them back down to your side.

Repeat twice more. Placing your right hand on the surface beside you (whether itʼs your bed or yoga mat), lift your left arm to the ceiling and reach it towards the right, lengthening out your left side. (Tip: be sure to keep your shoulders away from your neck as you lean).

Hold for 2-3 breaths and repeat on the other side. Fold your chest forward and place your hands on the floor in front of you. You may feel the stretch in your lower back. Keeping your hands planted on the ground, you can sway left and right if it feels good. Stay here for 2-3 breaths. Come back up to the center.

Ta-da! Stretching routine complete. This not only stretches your body but connects you to your breath—that breath of grace inside you!

I hope these tips find their way into your heart and home this year. Not every moment feels sparked with magic and joy, but remembering the grace tucked into each breath can help bring holiday cheer back into this season.

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