8 Simple Tips for a More Mindful Holiday Season

Happy December! This is truly one of the most significant months of the year: the last hoorah before we say hello to 2018! Most of us tend to have pleasant memories associated with this season as a child; memories of being warm and drinking hot cocoa with mini-marshmallows, leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, and watching holiday classics like Rudolph and Frosty. The holiday season as a child is full of magic, which unfortunately tends to wane as we get older. For a lot of us, those feelings of bliss and excitement are replaced with stress and anxiety over what gifts to purchase for others, how to successfully host a holiday party, or how to avoid overindulging in seasonal treats. The holiday season as an adult often becomes more of a headache than a time for togetherness and enjoyment, but it doesn’t have to! Here are some simple tips to have a more mindful and stress-free holiday season:

1.     Redefine what the holidays mean to you.

What does your ideal holiday season look like? What do you want to connect with? Do you want reconnect with family members and friends that you haven’t been spending a lot of time with? Do you want to connect to your spiritual or religious roots? Do you want to attend large gatherings or host a movie night in? Make a holiday bucket list and begin to craft your perfect holiday season! A little planning can go a long way!

2.     Consider going giftless or downsizing.

In today’s society, many people have an over abundance of material possessions. How many times have you found yourself scrambling to purchase a gift for everyone you know only to find out that they didn’t need the item? Or worse: returned it. Consider taking away this stressor by ditching gifts altogether! Or as an alternative, keep gifting simple. Make an agreement with your family and friends only to exchange small, inexpensive items that have guaranteed usage, such as a bag of coffee or a box of tea. Another idea is to plan out an experience such as taking your best friend to a concert or your mom to a spa!

3. Give yourself permission to indulge.

The holiday season is full of delicious food, which is a good thing! However, the spreads of holiday cookies and fudge can be stressful for some. It is important here to take a step back and think about how you are approaching seasonal treats. Notice how you feel when you indulge. Does it make you feel good and satisfied? Or does it make you feel guilty and spin a web of thoughts about how you are going to work it off at the gym? The key here is balance. This is only one season a year, and having a cookie isn’t going to derail any health or fitness goals you may have. In fact, over restricting yourself can backfire and leave you in front of an empty tray of brownies! So approach holiday food mindfully, allowing yourself a treat when you want one. Give yourself permission to satisfy that craving!

4.  Keep time for me time.

Just like any other month of the year, self-care is an important practice that we should engage in for our mental and physical health. Completely dropping your self-care practice in this hectic season may have some negative outcomes if you aren’t careful. Try to stick to a routine as best you can. Hit the gym, work up a sweat (or relax) in a yoga session, sit in and watch Netflix in your sweat pants, read a book, or do anything that gives you peace of mind and allows for relaxation. Your mind will thank you!

5. Give Back.

Remember all the money you saved by going giftless or keeping gifting simple? You can always turn around and put it to good use! December is often considered a season of giving and generosity, so why not donate to a good cause or volunteer your time at a local charity? Choose a cause you are passionate about and get involved!

6. Begin to think about your intentions for 2018.

Remember those New Years Resolutions? Have some fun with them! Get excited! Visualize yourself at the end of 2018: who do you want to be? What habits do you want to have? What new skills do you want to learn? What do you want to accomplish? The possibilities are endless! You can make a bunch of small, simple goals, or you can make a major life-changing goal. If you do go with the latter option, make a plan of how you are going to get there. It is much easier to make small goals that add up to a big goal than to try to make a major lifestyle change all at once.

7. Create a Hygge Space.

If you aren’t familiar with the Danish concept of Hygge, look it up because it’s wonderful! There isn’t really a direct translation in English, but Hygge can be described as a mood, a feeling.  The closest words that characterize Hygge are coziness and togetherness. Winter is an excellent time to bring some Hygge into your life because the season is all about being cozy! With the right props, creating a Hygge atmosphere is easy! Focus on warm, dim lighting (preferably from candles or Christmas lights), pleasant smells (try some warming essential oils such as ginger, clove, sandalwood, or cedarwood), warming drinks (coffee, tea, turmeric lattes), and sweet treats (such as cookies or scones). And don’t forget those sweaters and fuzzy socks!

8. Create a bonding experience.

Think back to the times you have felt the happiest. For most of us, it is likely that these moments were shared with those we care about. Although it is a great idea to make memories with others all year around, this time of year provides an abundance of unique opportunities. Think cookie baking, ice-skating, a Christmas movie marathon, a holiday road-trip, driving around to look at Christmas lights, or having a game night. Invite your loved ones over and have a good time!

In utilizing these tips and bringing mindfulness and fun into the holiday season, you set yourself up in the best way to avoid any unwanted anxiety or stressful feelings. If you do find yourself feeling stressed, honor that feeling and step back: this is only a temporary state. Ask yourself how you can move forward in the days to come, then let go. You’re on your way to having a wonderful season and a great New Year!