31 Days of Holiday Serenity

Cultivate inner peace this holiday season with 31 Days of Holiday Serenity. For each day in December you’ll gain a new strategy to help you sail through the season with your sanity intact. Keep reading and give yourself the gift of self-care.

DAY 1: Set an intention

Everything begins with an intention. It’s the seed from which you will create.

Ask yourself these 2 questions:

  1. How do I want to feel this holiday season?  Authentic, bright, kind, powerful, you name it. Stick to 1-3 words.
  1. How will I achieve this?  Say “I love you” more. By sticking to my holiday budget! See you later, headed to Hawaii for a solo vacation. I’ll set boundaries with my overbearing family. Be specific.

Write down your answers and put them somewhere you can see them daily. Bravo, you’ve just planted your holiday intention seed. No dirt required!

Now you’re going to take care of it by using your desired feelings (identified in question #1) to guide your actions. For example, if your intention is to feel authentic, then only engage in activities that align with this.

Oprah Winfrey lives by the principal of intention. She doesn’t take a phone call without clarifying her intention beforehand. Look at the purposeful, badass life she’s created! You can, too. ?

DAY 2: Create a budget for gifts and stick to it

You probably already know that the holidays are not about material things. It can be hard to remember when stores are blasting Christmas carols on November 1st and trying to lure you with sales.

Be realistic about how much you can spend on gifts. Then commit honoring that number no matter what. Finding the perfect gift for your brother Cliff or Aunt Sally within your budget can actually be a really fun challenge.

Remember no one wants a gift that puts you in debt or that you had to sell a kidney for. Bring more soul and less chedda to gift giving this year. You’ll reduce your stress level tenfold and your bank account will be happy. ???

DAY 3: Learn to gracefully decline invitations

You can’t be everywhere at once. Be honest with yourself about whether you want to attend the party, mixer, gathering, cookie exchange, etc. If the answer is no, remember that you’re not doing anyone any favors by showing up for their event when you don’t want to.

Your low vibration is going to be felt on some level and bring everyone else down. (Yes, even if you’re faking it. Energy don’t lie.) Have the courage to be truthful with yourself and the other person and gracefully decline the invitation. For example, “Thank you so much for the invitation, we won’t be able to make it this year. Enjoy!” Keep it short and simple, no explanation necessary. And come from a place of love when you say it. ♥️

DAY 4: Prioritize self-care

Now is not the time to start missing therapy appointments, yoga classes or your daily meditation practice. If anything, tis’ the season to maximize self-care!

We cannot pour from an empty cup. Ensure that yours is full by making time for your regular wellness practices or try something new…like breathwork!!

Now you can show up for your family and friends as your best self. But you have to show up for yourself first.

To your well-being! ???

DAY 5: Create moments of comfort

Is there a special food or drink that makes you feel cozy? (Vodka is not the answer!) Take a moment to enjoy this special sip or bite. Really be present for it. Take a break and soothe your Spirit. Cheers! ?

DAY 6: Get support

During the holidays it can be awfully painful to feel alone or reminded of the ways your family does not offer you support.

Empower yourself by claiming a new safe space. Finding a therapist, mentor or trusted friend that can provide a safe, loving zone to express yourself is essential for long term healing and growth.

DAY 7: Give & get a hug!

Hugs have a way of making us feel warm and fuzzy inside. The simple act of a hug isn’t just felt on our arms. When we embrace someone, oxytocin (also known as “the cuddle hormone”) is released, making us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The hormones that are released in the body after a hug aren’t just good for happy feelings – they can also help your physical health. When someone touches you, the sensation on your skin activates pressure receptors called Pacinian corpuscles, which then send signals to the vagus nerve, an area of the brain that is responsible for (among many things) lowering blood pressure. So, hug away!  ?

DAY 8: Simplify Gift Giving

When gift giving feels like an obligation or creates stress, we’ve completely lost the point. It’s time to rethink our strategy. Here are two gifting solutions:

Do it Secret Santa style. Instead of buying everyone in your family or friend circle a gift, purchase one desired present for a loved one. I recommend having each participant provide a list of three items they’d like to receive and set a spending limit. The surprise aspect of this tradition invites nostalgia of the excitement we all felt as kids this time of year.

Make a charitable contribution in the gift recipient’s name. This is the perfect gift for the person who has everything and it feels really good.

DAY 9: Take a nap!

Since my High School choir teacher told me about power naps in the 90’s, I’ve been hitting the hay for 30 minutes when I need to keep moving.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.”

Set your timer, get horizontal and put on an eye mask for a short snooze that’ll revive you!

Sweet dreams. ?

DAY 10: Watch caffeine and sugar intake

Oh yeah, it feels good going down but it does not feel good when you’re coming down.

There are extra temptations to eat, drink and be merry during the holidays. When you’re running around, the instant jolt sugar or caffeine provides seems like an excellent option. Unfortunately, it masks the fact that you’re tired and eventually going to crash.

So instead of grabbing that latte or last slice of pie, SLOW DOWN, check in with yourself and honor what you really need. Get curious about your cravings and seek relief in healthy alternatives like rest, exercise, H2O and a balanced diet.

DAY 11: Download the Evenflow app

Gain control over your holiday anxiety, insomnia, stress or grief instantly with this amazing meditation app created by pros.

In just a few minutes you can access guidance to help you make a choice in how you want to respond when triggered by holiday stress. This helps you shape your life from a place of consciousness not reactivity. Amen!

I’ve used Evenflow when I’m in need of some major grounding and share it with all of my clients. It works like a charm every time! ??

DAY 12: Practice compassion

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” – Wendy Mass, The Candymakers

During my first year of recovery I felt like I was dragging my broken soul and shattered ego around everywhere – very heavy. Lots of tears and longing to be on the couch eating cereal out of the box with Lyle. But I had to show up for work, family, friends, food. It was brutal.

How many times have you showed up for your life when your heart is broken, you’re emotionally exhausted or sick? And what was it like when someone showed you kindness? In that moment of connection you found relief and a flicker of hope.

You can ignite hope and healing in someone who is suffering just by smiling, saying hello or opening the door. Be kind – it’s the greatest gift you can give this season.

DAY 13: Go where the love is

You know where it is – with the people who light you up not dim your sparkle.

As an adult you get to decide who you let into your sphere. People you feel insecure, anxious or stifled around are not your people.

Learn to decipher who’s truly on “Team You” and prioritize quality time with them. After all, it’s been said that “You are the company you keep.”

DAY 14: Spend time with furry friends

Animals play a significant role in human health and well-being. Their unconditional love and ability to be ever present is healing and calming.

One of my favorite ways to get some space at a party is to find the pets and hang with them. They make the best small talk, you know. (I actually do this with kids as well.)

If you have your own fur baby you know the joy and comfort they bring. Make extra time for TLC with your pet this time of year. If you don’t have one, borrow a friend’s or volunteer at a rescue. So many fur angels need our help and at the same time you’ll be helping yourself! ???

DAY 15: Just say “No”

Seriously. No explanation is needed nor are you being rude. You’re being clear.

Think about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a wishy-washy person. It’s annoying! Wouldn’t you rather they be honest with you?

90% of communication is nonverbal. By beating around the bush or offering unnecessary explanations you’re not actually changing the message. “No” is a complete and acceptable answer to any request. If you feel the need you can say “No, thank you.”

DAY 16: Practice your superpower to PAUSE

If you’re not sure what to do – do nothing! When you’re feeling agitated or doubtful the best practice is to pause. You can do this by taking a deep breath and asking yourself “What do I want?

Then be silent and listen for that slow, steady voice within you for the answer. If it doesn’t come right away, keep pausing. Once you hear it, it’s your job to honor it.

Listening to your intuition isn’t always easy but it will always serve your Highest Good. And it does get easier with practice.

DAY 17: Practice the buddy system

Having a friend on call for stressful holiday situations is good planning. Whether in person, on the phone or via text, knowing that you can reach out for support is a life saver. ??❗️

This is part of the brilliance of 12-step programs. Sponsors and pals from your group provide a network of sympathetic ears when you’re losing your latkes.

So speak up and tell someone how you feel; then enlist them in your holiday health plan. Offer to do the same for someone else and keep the circle of giving going!

DAY 18: Laugh! Especially at yourself

“A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.

Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.” – Mayo Clinic

So have a chuckle, chortle or LOL. Whether you’re watching a funny movie, telling stories with friends or reflecting on your own silliness, it’ll do your mind, body and spirit good!

DAY 19: Do what’s in front of you

Feeling overwhelmed by all the shopping, cooking, schlepping this season? SLOW DOWN. Multitasking is a myth. You can’t be fully present and do two things at once.

Worrying about all the things you have to do doesn’t help either. Look at what’s in front of you and do that first. When you’re finished move on to the next thing.

Before you know it you’ll have worked through your “to do” list. y giving each task your full attention you’ll be confident in your work. Bravo! ?✅

DAY 20: Survive family events by learning about your heritage

Not sure what to say at family events? Want to keep Uncle Buck occupied so you don’t have to hear about his eczema AGAIN?

Ask questions about your family! Learn about your great grandparents, cousins overseas and whatever else you’re curious about.

It’s really interesting to hear the various interpretations from family members, too. Become a sleuth of your family tree. You might be surprised what you find out!

DAY 21: Set and maintain boundaries ??

Know where you end and another person begins. When you find yourself in conflict a good question to ask is, “How much of this is my stuff and how much is their stuff?”

No one can make you feel a certain way and vice versa (with the exception of violence). With a spirit of curiosity, explore your feelings about the situation honestly. Journaling or meditation are very helpful. Once you are clear, take responsibility for your part and detach from what is not. With practice this gets easier.

If you struggle to set boundaries, accept help from a therapist or counselor. You’ll never become the person you are meant to be without learning how to advocate for yourself.

DAY 22: Take a break from your screens

If you have today off, take it off! Disconnect from social media, email and texts.

I can hear your eye rolls ? right now. Here’s the rationale: when you’re fully present you can hear your Spirit speak. There are a lot of pros to technology but the biggest downside is that it’s a major distraction.

Everything happens in the now. Every a-ha moment and surge of creativity comes when we are fully present.

So, take your head out of your screen and experience the magic of the energy around you and within you.

DAY 23: Plan some alone time

If you’re anything like me you need alone time or you become not so fun to be around. With the demands of travel, end of year wrap-up and family functions, your solo time can get lost.

You can ensure it doesn’t by pre-planning dates with yourself. Schedule a yoga class, downtime to read or a visit to the museum. Setting expectations ahead of time alleviates misunderstandings and the likelihood of you losing your shiz.

Yes, your family and friends may be bummed when you take time away, but they will appreciate your energy more when you show up with a smile on your face. ?

DAY 24: Visualize. ?

Seeing in your mind’s eye how you would like this holiday to go, how you want to show up is VERY powerful.

Return to DAY 1 of our Holiday Serenity countdown. Remember the intentions you set and imagine them as though they are happening now.

Sit quietly and conjure up all of the feelings you desire. You are sending a message to your conscious, subconscious and the Universe to manifest the outcome you want.

Breathe, and if things start to go sideways return to this image again and again. It will serve you. ?

DAY 25: Be gentle with yourself

Whether today is a day of excitement, anxiety, loneliness or a combination of emotions (which is usually the case) take it easy on yourself.

Intense emotions follow Newton’s Law that what goes up must come down. So, expect to be a little sensitive after the whirlwind of Christmas subsides.

Your ability to be gentle with yourself will generalize to those around you. Having love and compassion is what the Christmas Spirit is all about. ♥️?☺️

DAY 26: Don’t compare and despair

Social media is not reality. Looking at photos of everyone’s seemingly perfect relationship, job or family can make you feel like a loser.

Remember that what people post reflects what they want you to think about them. Happy, harmonious, successful, well adjusted – you get it.

There is a back story to everyone’s feed that you’re not seeing which includes struggle, imperfection and humility – because that’s the human experience.

So, remember this when you scroll. And if social media really gets you spiraling, STOP. ✋ Take a break and spend some time in the real world appreciating your life!

DAY 27: Give someone a helping hand

If you feel lonely, depressed or struggle with addiction; being of service to others can help you experience connection, get you out of your head and improve your mood. It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, calling a friend to see how they’re doing or grabbing a commitment at a 12-step support group.

Giving back is one of the most effective ways to fill yourself up. So, do something kind for someone else today. Your Spirit will thank you and it’s likely they will too.

DAY 28: Clean house

We are all faced with SO MANY distractions because we have SO MANY options! Venti or Grande? Flats or heels? Etc. etc.

The reason Steve Job’s wore a uniform was to minimize “decision fatigue” – the deteriorating quality of our choices when we are overwhelmed by having to make so many decisions. He was too busy changing the way we live through technology to bother picking out a shirt. I admire that.

One way to mitigate decision fatigue is to minimize the amount of options you have especially in your home or office. The New Year is an excellent time to free yourself from stuff that’s weighing you down. It can help you gain clarity and space to create something new in 2020. ?

DAY 29: Go out in nature!

There’s something unexplainable about communing with Mother Nature. Studies have found that spending time in nature is good for your health, physically and psychologically. And I’m going out on a limb and say spiritually, too.

Invite the quiet in and make a date with nature. Even if you live in an arctic tundra – bundle up, go outside and look around you. Now let it seep in. ???

DAY 30: Take inventory

Every successful business has a system for checks and balances. Your soul should, too!

These 5 powerful questions from brilliant Danielle LaPorte will help you gain clarity in 15 minutes. I promise – I’ve done it.

Sit someplace quiet with your journal and a pen. Don’t think a lot about your answers. Allow your subconscious and intuition to speak by jotting down the first thing that comes to you.

5 Questions for a deeper year in review:

1.) What didn’t work?
2.) What did work?
3.) What were the highlights?
4.) And then: What does the new year look like if it’s full of what works?
5.) Bonus Q: What do your highlights say about you?

DAY 31: Learn to let go

“Once I lose, I never think about it again.” – Gary V

What if it could be that easy?

I believe it can and it begins with forgiving yourself. If you can accept yourself as a flawed person that “loses” sometimes or learns, as I like to think of it, then it becomes much easier to let go.

With this new year upon us, I invite you to think about letting go as a choice you can make instantly. Forgive yourself and keep moving forward. You’ve got magic to create.

Happiest New Year, Souls!  XO

Bianca Rodriguez
Bianca L. Rodriguez, MA, Ed.M, LMFT is a soul whisperer, author and innovator in spiritual psychotherapy. Her expert opinion is highly sought after by both online and print publications such as Bravo TV, New York Post, Huffington Post and Thrive Global. After receiving her MA and Ed.M in psychological counseling from Columbia University in 2005, Bianca had a spiritual awakening and realized despite her struggles with alcoholism, anxiety and depression she was complete. For the next decade Bianca developed her unique brand of psychotherapy integrating traditional and mystical interventions becoming a prominent leader and teacher in the recovery field. Upon meeting Bianca you’ll be inspired by her effervescent spirit. Join her on her website. For holiday stress support – contact her for a free consultation at: bianca@youarecomplete.com – or download her free resources list on her website.

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