As the holidays approach, we too often fill ourselves with reproach in addition to our eggnog and cheer.
I’m here to remind you that you do not have to be too hard on yourself. Instead of serving up compensatory workouts and shame, it’s time we kept our mind on the gifts that this time of year gives us and practice accentuating the positive!
Here are three positive practices to get you through this holiday season with less self-flagellation and more self-love.
1. Remember your values.
Research shows that people who are able to make choices that are best aligned with their values feel more comfortable with their actions and are generally happier! So get clear: where do you want to spend your energy? Or, as I tell my yoga students, if you want strawberries, don’t be a dick!
Put simply, act in accordance with your values. If you value family—enjoy them! If romance and relationships are important to you, invest in a date night. If you connect with your spirituality, make sure you carve out time to continue to do so this season.
We feel better when our lifestyle supports our values. Keep your values close and live accordingly!
2. Depersonalize—create mental distance.
This one *might* feel weird but it really works! Cognitive flexibility is correlated with higher degrees of self-compassion and self-esteem. Our thinking can be ‘nudged;’ we just have to be willing to practice seeing our thoughts from the outside in.
Remember, your thoughts are only part of the picture. Try to ‘see’ your thoughts. Then, give yourself enough room so that each thought doesn’t ‘have to’ result in a subsequent action.
For example, next time you begin to bully yourself with that “I am fat” thought—reframe! Zoom out and instead try: “I am having the thought I am fat.” This might seem like an odd practice, but the willingness to acknowledge our mind as only part of our experience of reality has tremendous benefits!
When we can investigate our thoughts like this, we are able to see that they are interpretations, not truths. Then, we can pick the behaviors that are not only true but also truly healthy for ourselves!
3. Practice acceptance.
Acceptance is an active process. And, it’s a practice! When we get to a place of acceptance, we are better able to practice compassion and to stop fighting. Important to note, acceptance does not mean we like or agree with everything. This *might* be important for those trickier family dinners!
Acceptance is simply a willingness to experience what is happening instead of avoiding it. When we are willing to do this, we become more flexible. The more we can accept our realities, the more willing we become to work for the joy within them.
Like yoga, the practice is not to change everything, but rather to realize sometimes, nothing needs to be changed, only accepted.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.