If Your Holiday Season Seems to Be Racing By, Slow Down

Do you find yourself rushing around even more than usual at this time of year?  You've got presents to buy, cookies to bake, parties to plan, and events to attend.  There are cards to mail, decorations to display, all the tasks on your regular to-do list, and kids to soothe and entertain.  Plus traffic!

It doesn't sound like peace on earth.

Busy Holiday

Press pause.

I loved the Christmas season as a child, with so much to anticipate and enjoy, but that's because I didn't have to "produce" the holiday for anyone.  As an adult, I find that every year it flies by more quickly, and before I've really savored it, it's over.  What a letdown.

You're probably on the holiday production team, so be sure to take time to pause.

  • Pause before you say yes to one more thing.
  • Pause before you add anything else to your shopping cart.
  • Pause before getting upset when something upsets your plans.
  • Pause for your own peace of mind.

When you feel the holiday momentum sweeping you along, take a few deep breaths.  Listen to your favorite holiday song.  Sit for a moment and just observe what's happening around you.

It's natural to try to tie a bow on the year – to finish projects you started, try to reach those goals you set, and make plans for the year ahead.  With all of our year-end assessments and New Year aspirations, we often fail to experience right now.

And so we miss it.

Pause so you can be present.  Be here now so life doesn't become one big blur.

11 ways to show up for your life

1.  Notice and celebrate little joys.

Whether it's a child's smile, a pink-tinged sunrise, a festive light display, or the fresh spiciness of a fir tree – stop, pay attention, and be delighted!

2.  Use your senses.

Notice what you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.  Remind yourself how blessed you are to have these senses in good working order.

3.  Listen with curiosity.

How often are you listening just enough to formulate your own response?  How often are you impatient for your turn to talk?  Try to think less about your own stories and opinions so you can listen with more attention.

4.  Listen to your body.

Are you too tired to enjoy that party you planned to attend?  Maybe you shouldn't force it.  Do you want to wake up with a clear head and energy for the day?  Don't have another drink just because your companions do.  Feeling cramped and lethargic?  Leave your task for a moment to stand and stretch or take a brisk two minute walk.

5.  Be okay with not knowing it all.

I'm a worrier and perfectionist who wants to figure everything out ahead of time.  I feel insecure when I don't have all the answers.  But the reality is that I don't have all the answers.  I never will.  I would be more present in the here and now if I accepted the fact that I can't see into the future.

6.  Feel your emotions.

Stop telling yourself that it's "bad" or "wrong" to feel sad or upset.  Let yourself feel what you feel without guilt or berating yourself.

7.  Learn to be flexible.

We make our plans, but things don't always go the way we expect.  Accept the truth of that, release your grip, and pay attention to the new circumstances.  Going with the flow can open the door for creativity and serendipity, which is wonderful.

8.  Reflect and be grateful.

Even on a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,* try to think of at least one good thing that occurred.  (It could be that your sanity is intact and now the day is over!)  If you keep a gratitude journal, over time you'll create a storehouse of positive memories – good reading when you're feeling defeated.  At the very least, your journal will keep your days distinct from one another, instead of a hazy blur.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

9.  Reduce distractions.

It's hard to be present when you can't think for two minutes without being interrupted by a ring or a ding.

  • Send calls to voice mail unless it's one of your children or an emergency contact.  You can check calls every couple of hours or so and return if necessary.
  • Turn off email notifications and pick a few specific times a day to check and respond to email.
  • Unsubscribe from sale and deal notifications.  They're only intended to get you to buy something you never considered until you heard about a sale or special deal.
  • Set time limits for social media use.

10.  Create a ritual.

Every day, savor at least one ritual slowly and peacefully.  Rituals provide structure and ground us in our daily experiences.  You could make a habit of sipping your morning coffee on your balcony, reading the latest post of your favorite blogger over lunch, or lighting a candle and saying grace with your family before the evening meal.

11.  Retreat from the digital.

You can't be present if you never spend time in the real world.  So do at least one thing every day that doesn't require an internet connection.  Read a book, take a walk without an electronic device, write a note (with your hand, on paper), practice yoga, or make something.

As you've probably figured out, slowing down and being present is not just for the holiday season.  Practice these strategies any time you need to stop racing around and show up for your life.  See if they don't create more time, clarity, and peace every day.


  1. I especially like the idea of establishing some rituals. They ground you and give your brain a rest. I wasn’t calling them rituals, but I think that’s what I’ve been doing this month. Fox example, each night as I prepare dinner, I’m playing a Christmas CD. Also, a tea break (plus knitting) each afternoon.

    1. Yes to all of those - they sound like wonderful rituals!

  2. What a nice post Karen. Gives me permission to pause without guilt….❤️

    1. You shouldn't need permission to pause and rest, but I completely understand! I can be very driven when I have a long to-do list, and I find it hard to stop until everything is done. It's not always healthy. So do pause without guilt!


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