Lean Into Joy
Let go of simply surviving the holidays - why not enjoy?
Growing up I celebrated all of my family’s traditional holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter – twice in one day, which meant two big meals (and desserts!) in one day. As someone who loves food, it worked out in my favor and, unsurprisingly, gathering around the table to eat became one of my favorite holiday traditions.
What didn’t work out in my favor, and in the favor of many women I know, was how my love of food eventually turned into a battle. As I started to understand what was accepted as “beautiful” I quickly learned what foods were “good” and “bad,” and if I was going to eat “bad” foods they needed to be “earned.” I don’t think it takes long for any young woman or girl struggling with insecurity to come to the conclusion that holiday foods fall into the latter category, especially if we ever want to be as attractive (read: skinny) as the women we see in magazines and movies. What was once a joyful holiday tradition became filled with guilt and shame.
After many holidays spent obsessing over avoiding the foods I loved, I discovered the practice of mindful eating. While it is still just that – a practice – mindful eating has changed my perspective and allows me to reconnect with the joy that holiday foods bring me.
Mindful eating is a powerful tool that is accessible to anyone, anywhere. It is a practice that teaches us how to slow down to savor the moment and find gratitude for the food we’re eating, the people we’re eating with, and the people who make it all possible – all the way from the farmer to the chef. It is a practice that can make our holiday traditions even more special, and free us from our shame and guilt.
Practicing mindful eating only has one requirement: the willingness to spend a moment in appreciation.
I know how easy it is to eat meals on the couch while watching my favorite show, at my desk while working, or sitting at the table scrolling my phone. And those things aren’t “bad,” but to focus your attention on the practice of mindful eating, I want to challenge you to turn off the TV, put your phone on “do not disturb,” and sit at a clutter-free table.
You don’t have to start with a full meal and it doesn’t have to be homemade – do whatever works best for you. Put a place setting together – a fancy glass with a beverage you enjoy, a folded napkin, a placemat, and your food on a real plate – and, if you can, add some flowers and turn on soft music.
Mindful eating can also be practiced with a group – maybe you want to try this around the table with your family this holiday season, or maybe you want to share it with friends from work. Pick one item (dessert is always a great choice) and have one person lead your group in the mindful eating exercise.
Mindfulness allows us to turn our holiday tradition into more, by taking the time to truly appreciate what we have — the simple things, the special people in our lives and the time we have together.
What better way to honor ourselves, our loved ones and our holiday traditions than by being truly present in the moment. If you need a little help kickstarting a mindfulness practice, consider joining us at one of our upcoming Mindfulness & Healing Retreats or Mindfulness & Meditation Retreats.
This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988