Despite the festivities, garlands, and twinkle lights, the holidays can feel a bit, well, less than tranquil. To combat the chaos, I’ve sought to adjust my expectations and output over the years. It’s an ongoing recalibration.
Over the years I’ve shared an assortment of ways to help the holidays feel more tranquil inside and out. While this list is not exhaustive, the suggestions are tried and true. My hope is that they’ll offer moments of tranquility, too!
1. Get outside. Brisk, fresh, outdoor air helps ground me. Take in the scent of pine trees and wood smoke. Time in nature builds on a sense of interconnection. This larger view helps put things in perspective. Go see Christmas lights and outdoor displays. Last night Tim and I wandered through Longwood Gardens and it felt like a fairy tale.
2. Center yourself. During the hustle and bustle, it’s extra important to make time for self-care. Keep up your favorite centering practices such as sipping tea, sitting on a meditation cushion, writing in your journal, practicing on your yoga mat, or soaking in the tub.
3. Give. Gift your loved ones a batch of homemade jam, a beloved book, an artisanal treat from a small business, a box of their favorite tea (or whip up your own blend), or tickets to see an exhibit. Think useful and consumable. Volunteer. Donate to a special cause, adopt an orangutan, or sponsor a farm animal in their name.
4. Be kind. This time of year can be hard. Be gentle with yourself and others. Know we’re all doing the best we can. Practice loving-kindness meditation. This may have been a hard year. Honor your growth, lessons learned, and what’s to come. When you make a mistake, say to yourself “Bless my heart.”
5. Breathe. When you notice your shoulders creeping up toward your ears, your heart racing while stuck in traffic, or stress building, tune into your breath. Inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, repeat. Again and again.
6. Travel lightly (and off-peak). Print this Tranquil Travel checklist. Save space by rolling your clothing. Choose layers perfect for mixing and matching, dressing up (pearls and heels) or dressing down (clogs and denim jacket). When possible, choose off-peak travel to avoid congestion.
7. Express gratitude. Take time to appreciate the little things: a warm bath, a steaming cuppa tea, a cozy bed, a devoted pet. Studies show that expressing gratitude can lower stress levels, help you sleep better, improve self-esteem, enhance empathy, and adjust your attitude.
8. Get moving. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress, and helps offset those extra holiday cookies. Put on your hiking boots or tennis shoes and hit the trails. Roll out your yoga mat and do a few sun salutations (yes, even when staying in a hotel or Grandma’s house). Grab your bike and begin pedaling.
9. Celebrate. If you’re feeling a bit of the bah humbug blues, put on your favorite holiday film, create a playlist of festive tunes (here’s one I created last year), go see a childhood treat such as The Nutcracker, and put up a few holiday decorations to evoke good memories.
10. Reflect + Dream. Review the year and list highlights and lessons learned. Create time to daydream about the new year. What do you hope to see, taste, touch, smell, and hear in the coming year? List everything that comes to mind and focus on the experiences you hope to have. Join me on December 31 for the Yoga + Mindfulness Mini Retreat and I’ll walk you through this process.
Wishing you a holiday filled with your favorite things. May this season be meaningful. Namaste.