Give Presence This Holiday Season by @EricaHornthal

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It seems that every year the focus of the holiday season becomes more about gifts than anything else. Although it is nice to give and receive, there is so much more we can do to make our time during the holidays more about being present than giving a present.

Here are five suggestions on how to be more present this holiday season:

Turn off technology.

It can be very difficult to go cold turkey when it comes to our technology. This isn’t necessary, but what is necessary is dedicating time during each day to turning off our electronic devices. Try it in small doses to start, maybe 5 minutes, and challenge yourself to increase those time segments. You might be surprised how attached you are and how freeing it can be to let go.

Get away from social networks and back to social interaction.

Although social media is a huge part of our society, it can have very negative effects especially during the holidays. It is common to compare our lives to our friend’s vacation photos, expensive holiday gifts, and family gatherings plastered on our social media walls. This season try limiting your time on social media and concentrating on what you have in the moment. Create a journal or scrapbook with your children. Highlight the process or journey, not the product. You will still have your photos and a keepsake of the season, but it will be more about your experience than the comments or “likes” associated with it.

Practice active listening.

Active listening means being engaged and present in the conversation. Let your child know that you are listening by reframing what they say or adding what you notice as they are talking. This might seem simple, but we have gotten away from this form of communication and rely more and more on multitasking than really listening. Active listening validates our children’s emotions and lets them know we are engaged, invested, and interested in what they are saying.

Remember to give to yourself.

In order to be present with others like our children and family, we need to take care of ourselves. This means getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and eating well. These are easier said than done, but the idea is to give yourself permission to take time out. Take back “you” time and remember that we have to take care of ourselves to be present to take care of others. Find things or activities that keep you energized and make them a priority. Make yourself a priority this holiday season. Not only will it give you more energy, but it can also be a great way to show your children the importance of self care.

Be Mindful.

Practicing mindfulness can also help us be more present this holiday season. Remember to engage your senses. Two items that are in abundance during the holidays are food and music. Use the smells and tastes of the holiday to orient yourself to the moment. Use music to enhance the connection with those around you. Most of all allow yourself to be in the moment with your friends and loved ones. It might be harder than relying on those handheld devices to pass the time, but I guarantee that you will have memories that will last a lifetime.

Follow Erica Hornthal and Chicago Dance Therapy on Twitter @EricaHornthal.

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About Author

Erica Hornthal, CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy, is a licensed clinical professional counselor and board certified dance therapist. She received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago and her BS in psychology from University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Erica supports individuals’ growth and change by encouraging them to resource their own body-mind connection to express their inner desires, wants, and needs. Erica’s work has been highlighted in Social Work Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, as well as on Fox, CBS, WCIU and WGN.

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