Increase Your Holiday Spirit With These 3 Tips
This post is part of Important Media’s More Love, Less Stuff holiday event. We’re sharing ideas to redefine holiday traditions to be less about stuff and more about gratitude, compassion, and love.
While it may be the season for holiday cheer, it’s also the season for traveling, buying gifts, attending holiday parties, dealing with difficult relatives, anticipating bonus checks, putting up lights, and still accomplishing the regular work, chores, and obligations that normally fill up the day. If the hustle and bustle of the holidays can make even the merriest Clark Griswold snap, then you shouldn’t feel too bad when the stress starts creeping up your spine.
But don’t let it! The holidays are a joyous time. There’s no reason to waste the season being stressed out about superficial things.
Here are three tips to put the spirit back in holiday spirit.
Tip 1: Take a Deep Breath (or Sniff)
One of the things that comes most naturally to us is also one of the things that best helps us destress: breathing. Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic reaction, which helps us to calm down. And breathing exercises have been proven in clinical research to reduce blood pressure and may even be able to change the expression of some genes. That is why breathing is such an integral part of “centering” activities like yoga and meditation.
Breathing can be even more enjoyable during the holiday season. Think of all the wonderful scents to smell: pine needles, peppermint, gingerbread, and freshly baked pies. Why wouldn’t you want to inhale it all deeply?
To center yourself during this hectic time of year, try buying a holiday-scented candle, essential oils, or just flavor your coffee with peppermint or cinnamon. You can also grab a few pine needles from your Christmas tree and keep them in your pocket. When you start feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes and inhale your scent of choice deeply. Appreciate the freshness of the smell and the memories it brings to life. Things aren’t so bad, right?
Tip 2: Let the Weather Stop You
Last week San Francisco — where I live — shut down in anticipation of a rain storm. The schools were closed, meetings got canceled, and most of the city hunkered down and waited for the inevitable power outages. And even though a good chunk of the city did lose its power, the forced “rain day” wasn’t too bad. It was actually nice being stuck at home, listening to the rain and the wind on the windows, and letting go of the need to get out and get going.
Scripture tells us “the wind blows where it wills” (John 3:8), and that’s often the case with this season’s snow, rain, ice, wind, and cold. Nature doesn’t check our schedules and honor our to-do lists. She doesn’t care that we had plans to go shopping or pick up some holiday decorations. She just rolls in and forces us to stop what we’re doing.
So let her. Appreciate the gift that nature brings this time of year — the gift of an excuse to work from home, an excuse to let some things fall off your to-do list, and an excuse to spend the evening watching movies instead of rushing around doing chores. You don’t have any control of where and how hard the wind blows. But you can control how you embrace its gifts.
Tip 3: Shake Your Holly, Jolly Booty
When the weather does give you a chance, take the opportunity to get out and move around. Not only does exercise keep the heart healthy and bring more oxygen into your system, but it also releases endorphins — happy hormones — which deplete stress and give us that euphoric feeling we should be feeling this time of year.
Ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sleding are particularly good exercise activities to increase your holiday cheer. Not only do they get you moving, but they also get you outside and in nature. Plus, there’s something wonderful about holding a loved one’s mittens as you zip around the ice rink together.
If the weather forces you to stay indoors embrace it. Heat up and work up a sweat at a group yoga class. Head to the gym and get a head start on your New Year’s resolution. No matter what exercise you try, you’ll get more energy and optimism. So let the day’s worries go and crank up the music. It’s time to rock around the Christmas tree (or menorah).
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