Navigating the Holidays Mindfully

I’ve always leaned toward simplicity during the holidays, though I do love the trees, lights, and giving part, too.

If you’re not careful, though, you can end up going to holiday gathering, one right after the other, stress yourself out about gift-giving, try to uphold all the traditions our culture says you’re supposed to.

You’ll turn into a Scrooge faster than you can say, “Bah Humbug!”

I’ve created holiday rituals that involve not going out and spending, but doing smoke-cleansings, spending time in nature, and making food together. 

All these things point to something radical: going about the holidays mindfully. I offer you the following suggestions.

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Create new traditions

Making it to everyone’s holiday gatherings can get tiring. You can get creative and do something different.

  • Have a little holiday gathering online using Zoom, Skype or some other video chat service.
  • Gather friends and family and go on a hike.
  • Have a tree decorating party
  • Have an apple cider gathering by the fire and tell stories.
  • Have a “progressive dinner” such that no one person has to cook all the food. It’s not 100% environmentally great – as everyone will be driving – but it’ll be a great reason to get everyone to carpool and work together.

Commit to giving meaningful presents that have minimal impact to your budget and environment

That is, presents that won’t trash the environment, break the bank, and have a personal touch.

  • DIY sugar scrubs to encourage relaxation (and the jar can be re-used)
  • Donation to worthy causes in someone’s name
  • Make edible gifts such as organic cheese arrangements or fruit
  • Make a photo album or a video of memories
  • Make “coupons” that you give that involve a skill you have or a service you’d like to provide someone
    • i.e. designing websites
    • fixing cars
    • painting (artistic or construction)
    • running errands
    • cleaning
    • make a joke book if you’re good at humor
  • If you’re good at thrift shopping, consider buying thrift gifts for people and upcycling them

Predetermine something (or lots of things!) that you will do mindfully

  • Baking while concentrating on your breathing and the process of baking itself
  • Mindfully decorate the tree while focusing on your breathing and allow your senses to take in the beauty of the lights, the scent of the tree, the twinkle of the ornaments
  • Decorate or wrap presents in silence while you also focus on breathing, the feel of the paper, the scents around you, artfully folding corners, and labeling

Commit to simplicity

This does not mean deprivation

  • Re-use lights and ornaments from years past instead of having to get new things
  • Decorate plants you already have instead of getting a tree
  • Consider making a Tree of Life that can stay up all year
  • Make simple meals all month – soups, stews, that sort of thing so that if you need to cook a bigger meal, you’ll have more energy

Talk to your family about this well in advance

Some folks start saving and buying well before the holiday season

Drink more water

This really helps with your energy levels, headaches, and processing stress. More hydration means that your body will function optimally throughout the day. For more ideas, see my post on “drinking a gallon of water a day.” 

Take time to meditate

Of course, having a meditation practice throughout all this is so important, it almost goes without saying.

Hopefully these tips will help you to navigate the holidays mindfully.

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