During this time of year, I can feel my body move into a sort of hibernation mode where my deepest yearning underneath it all becomes, simply, to rest.
To rest from the busyness that the first 11 months of the year have brought. To take time to reflect-on and take-in all the many lessons I’ve learned this year. And my main priorities become how much yummy I can get into my tummy, and where’s the nearest warm body to cuddle up with.
Yet that natural inclination, that perhaps many of us feel this time of year, to hunker-down, is totally contrasted by everywhere we look during this season that says “buy! buy! buy!”, “spend! spend! spend!”, “do! do! do!”, “it’s not time to rest, yet!”
And I think that’s where a lot of our stress comes from- this contrast between our innate natures and societal norms saying otherwise.
We get caught up in a lot of what we think we “should” be doing around the holidays (which we talk more about in this week’s upcoming video!) and I don’t know about you, but December always seems to fly by for me in haste, and relaxation often doesn’t come until after the holidays are over.
So here are some things I plan on doing to keep stress at bay as I try to enjoy this last little bit of 2012:
Focus on presence, not presents
You know what I consider a great gift? To have a conversation with someone who’s not checking their phone the whole time, or clearly thinking about their to-do list while they’re “listening” to you.
I want to both feel more presence and connection with people during these last fleeting days of the year, and also to give presence- to BE there. To really listen, connect, engage with people in the moment and not let myself get stuck up in my head.
I think presence is an amazing gift for others, and for yourself, cause bonus! It’s an instant stress reliever.
Make time to make, not spend
One of my most stress inducing holiday activities is shopping for people! I have lots of fun figuring out a unique and thoughtful gift that’s just for that person- love that part. But the finding, driving, crazy busy store going, endless web searching, too much money spending part? Not so fun for me, no mo’.
So this year I’ve opted out of some of the usual holiday things I do, like a handmade ornament exchange I’ve participated in for years, to instead focus my creative energies on making gifts for my family and friends.
I’m making time to make something special for everyone on my list- the trick is to start early! So I’m already planning and plotting and will likely be spending many-a relaxing and happy weekend between now and Christmas just creating, and that’s something that fits in completely with my winter hibernation urges.
Random acts of kindness
To me, people trampling each other to get inside a Black Friday sale is the exact opposite of what the holidays are about.
This is supposed to be a time of joy, of reflection, connection and above all, giving. But unfortunately, it’s become so much more about the stuff we give, rather than the bits of ourselves we give.
I get stressed out by the materialism that the holidays bring, so to counter-act that, this year I want to focus more on how I can give in other ways.
Jen and I were talking about random acts of kindness as being a great way to not only give back to someone, to show you care, but it’s also an amazing way to warm your own heart. Giving to others is really also about giving back to yourself, and there’s no 50% off sale that can compare to those kind of warm-fuzzies.
In a way, I guess it comes back to presence, as I want to remain open and observant to the opportunities I have to offer help, service, a smile, a warm coat, or whatever kindness I can show.
That’s how I plan on creating a less-stressed holiday season, rife with the enjoyment of as many small moments as I can capture. I want to stretch the rest of this year waaaaay out.
Share your thoughts/tips/struggles around holiday stress on your blog too, and we’ll post a link right here for our readers to check out!
Joanna from Re-U shares some really good tips around holiday stress-busting
Kalani from Kalanicut shares an awesome reminder of what your loved ones really want this holiday season
Courtney from Chakra Glow shares what stresses her out as an introvert this time of year and her idea to combat that
Ashley from She Makes a Home shares how a scary experience reminded her what she most wants from this holiday season