Posted by Seminal Wellness Team on 12/3/2023 to News
It's the most wonderful time of the year...or is it? Sure, it could be merry and bright; but, it could also be stressful and maddening. Things can also be heartbreaking, particularly, when you remember those you have lost. How do we ensure that the holidays are less about credit card debt and overindulgence and more about joy, giving thanks, and renewing for the year ahead? We'll look at taking back the holidays below.
Make a Simple List, Check it Twice
During the holidays, we often feel the pressure to be especially generous. But, generosity is not only measured by how much you give, but how you give. Make a simple list (limit it to 25 if you could) of economical gifts that will be most valued by each recipient. Review that list before you start your shopping to confirm it's the best one. Your partner may appreciate a weekend at the nearby bed-and-breakfast the most. Your best friend really had her eye on that scarf. And, your son deserves the day at the movies with his two besties. Millennials, in particular, prefer experiences over products anyway (The Trade Group, 2023). Don't be daunted by the most expensive gifts; jump at the most cherished ones. But, you might have to go off the beaten path to get the best deals. Check the cool little spot that just opened, or the site that may lie outside the top-10 hits. You could find a treasure for your loved one, and help a dedicated small business.
Don't Leave Yourself off the List
As you make others' holiday dreams come true, don't forget about gifting yourself. What would make your holidays brighter? What do you really need? What's something, which neatly fits your budget, that would make life that much better? Yes, this could be a product—self care, with a focus on sustainability, has become one of the best gifting trends (Penny Golightly, 2023)—but, as suggested above, it could be a nearby place. The admission may even be free—a park, a trail, a pier. The best gift could be a day, or even just an hour, to yourself, giving you to restoration and rejuvenation to be better—for your loved ones, your community, and yourself—in the year ahead.
Make Time for Mindfulness
Amid the holiday hustle and bustle, make time to be mindful. This doesn't require meditation (though that works for many); but, it does call for living in the moment, staying focused—despite all the pressures—and keeping things in perspective. Mindfulness has not only been found to reduce stress, it also moderates symptoms of stress in the body (Dutcher, Cole, Williams, & Creswell, 2022). When you're around friends and family, listen to every word, look into their eyes—rather than scrolling on your phone. When you have to scramble to finish errands—or, yes, get gifts—be focused on your list, and what has to get done, so you don't forget anything—or anyone. And, recognize when you need a few moments. If you can't keep your thoughts straight, your breath is getting shallow, or it really feels like the world is closing in, stop. Take a deep breath. And, reflect on what needs to get done, not what "should" get done. Remember your priorities, and stick to them. A gift can be returned or exchanged; but, lost time can never be recovered. With a calm mind, and a focused perspective, you'll never forget what matters.
Be Grateful for the Trials and the Triumphs
The holidays are perhaps the best time to look back, and see how far you've come. Yes, celebrate the triumphs—the promotion, the graduation, the recovery, etc.—but, credit the tribulations too. Reflect on the struggles at work, the relationship crises, the health challenges, and even the losses of the nearest and dearest. As grueling, disheartening, and crushing as those experiences may have been, you likely also discovered aspects of your self—a new source of strength and latent skills—that you didn't know you had. They may have even granted you precious opportunities to develop those abilities. Be grateful for the opportunity to have had that individual, or those individuals, in your life. Treasure the love, lessons, and support they gave you. You are a better person because of them, and their legacy will never be lost. Let the joy of the season inspire you to reflect, rebuild, and rediscover. Unwrap the holiday magic.
Dutcher, J.M., Cole, S.W., Williams, A.C., & Creswell, J.D. (2022). Smartphone mindfulness meditation training reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression in stressed adults: A randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 103(July 2022), 171-177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2022.04.003
Penny Golightly. (2023). Christmas gifting trends for 2023. https://www.pennygolightly.com/christmas-gifting-trends-for-2023/
The Trade Group. (2023). Over 78% of millennials prefer experiences over products. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/over-78-millennials-prefer-experiences-products-the-trade-group