Tame the Flurry of Holiday Activity with These Mindfulness Tips
The holidays can be frantic, but you want to remember the best moments, not rush through them. Here’s how to slow down and savor the season
The sheer number of tasks on your holiday to-do list can rival Santa’s, and by 7 p.m. during the holidays (or should we say holidaze?), you feel so completely mindless that you sink into your sofa, too exhausted to do anything but crack open a beer and watch an episode or two on Netflix. Before you know it, the holidays you looked forward to so much are over.
So how can we combat holiday stress and really savor the moments we have with friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers? The answer is by slowing down the frenetic pace of digital life. Here are a few tips to help you make analog memories that last, not pass you by.
Prep for the Holidays so You Can Enjoy Them
Dylan + Jeni
Much like a wedding, the more you prepare for the insanity, the more you can spend time enjoying the festivities. If you’re anticipating mixing drinks all night, delegate a couple family members to be bartenders. If you’re running the show at dinner, try to get a crew together to prep recipes in the days prior to the feast (use our handy checklist for what to do from one up to three days before). For supplies, make a list and check it twice: make sure you have enough chairs, napkins, and plates, plus all the recipe ingredients—then you won’t be running out at the last minute and feeling harried.
Curate Quiet Times
It might sound counterintuitive, but we endorse scheduling in some relaxation time during the holidays, whether it’s a snowy solo stroll or a quiet evening spent reading and knitting by the fireplace. Block an hour or two off in your calendar as an appointment, and you’ll be less likely to let other busy work creep in.
Create a Walking Labyrinth
This charming activity has been used by Zen Buddhist monks and garden designers to encourage walking meditation. You can create your own using potted plants, rocks, rope, or simply by drawing lines in the dirt with a stick. If you’re making your labyrinth at night, use paper bags filled with sand and lit by tea candles. Keep the design simple: this Walking Labyrinth can be made in less than 20 minutes. If you create a glowing night labyrinth, bring your whole family out on the lawn to admire the dramatic sight. Then walk the labyrinth together, encouraging each person to be free to wander and take his or her own path.
Do a Crafty Activity
There’s something about having to put everything else down and focus on working with your hands that makes the hourglass sands slow to a pleasant trickle. Whether it’s a DIY holiday wreath, a popcorn garland, or an easy jewelry project, keep it fun and light. Make your craft projects open-ended and not intended to be a present (we like yarn bombing whatever’s around the house, such as an ornament, or stitching sassy needlepoints) so you won’t be stressed trying to finish.
Giving back is a great way to be more thoughtful this season. If you can’t volunteer, get together as a group or family and decide on a non-profit to support. Here are a few of our beneficiaries from Giving Tuesday.
Any lit is great, whether it’s David Sedaris’ hilarious story “Santaland Diaries,” about working as an Christmas elf at Macy’s, or burying yourself in the romantic throes of “Anna Karenina.” But consider sneaking away to your local coffee shop or garden with a slim volume called “The Miracle of Mindfulness.” Written by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh in 1975, the book teaches us how really being present in what we’re doing can change our lives and the world around us, and might be your best bet for thinking deeply and slowly this winter. Hanh teaches that even washing dishes can be a mindful meditation (tell that to your kids after the holiday dinner).
Social media detoxes are popular for a reason—they give you an opportunity to live life at an analog pace and focus on being thankful for what you do have, not what you don’t. So look at what you do have around your house: put your parents’ vinyl on the turntable, take film photos instead of iPhone photos, and play a board game or do a jigsaw puzzle. Pull out the photo albums from the ’80s and ’90s and take turns telling stories.