With the good times of the holidays also comes lots of stress. Whether it’s having lots of family over, or cooking a huge meal, there often seems to be something that is threatening your peace. When we go through these problems that seem to keep changing (like Covid-19 variants), and constantly threatening us, what we can do is to learn to “embrace” the problems—that doesn’t mean feeling helpless and becoming a victim of the problem. And it is different from “pretending the problem doesn’t exist.”
I would like to share some of the things I learned from running my small, humble business over the years—especially from the past two years. A spa day is nice, but I believe these tips are “sustainable” ways of self-care. Hopefully, these tips will help you to enjoy the holidays fully despite the restrictions of our current circumstances.
1. Block the time to get lost in the details
Do something that requires detailed attention and mindfulness, either something you love or something new. Details enrich your life—we tend to forget that as we live in the modern society where productivity and achievement often have a higher priority. Plan to include a daily activity, even if it’s a short time, to nourish your soul to enrich your life.
2. Learn to embrace authenticity and imperfection
Being mindful and being a perfectionist are two separate things. Treat your authenticity with respect. Be proud to be where you are in the course of your personal journey.
3. Embrace your emotions
“Positive mindset” creates a positive result, they say. But, actually, there is more to it. Pretending the negative emotions do not exist does not make you positive. Rather, allow yourself to experience the negative emotions for a moment. Then, ask yourself what thoughts, assumptions, and expectations created the emotions. Then, think about what if you change the thoughts, assumptions, and expectations that caused the negative emotions.
4. Place yourself in a larger context
In other words, be grateful, especially when you feel isolated or frustrated. Gratefulness comes with a sense of connection, which, I believe, ultimately brings the purpose of your life.
A tea ritual is a great path to build the habit of being grateful, which will ultimately change the wiring in the brain to elevate mood and energy, based on neuroscience. Biochemical and neurobiological effects of tea mimic anti-depressant processes, according to a scientific study published in 2019. We have a complete “tea ritual guide” on our website.
5. Smile despite the circumstances
This is not to pretend nothing happened. This is science. When you smile, your brain releases neuropeptides to help reduce stress. Then, brain hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins start to flow. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, and serotonin is an antidepressant. Psychological studies suggest that smiling may actually influence our physical state, such as lowering our heart rate during stressful activities. Big smiles that engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes showed better results than smiles just using the muscles surrounding the mouth.
“Gratitude works” https://emmons.faculty.ucdavis.edu/gratitude-and-well-being/
“Mechanisms Underlying the Anti-Depressive Effects of Regular Tea Consumption” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627400/
“Your Face and Moves Seem Happier When I Smile” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32394814/