How will you treat yourself this holiday season? Enjoy one or all of these top picks for a generous dose of self-love, peace and calm.
Even though the holiday season is supposed to be about love and giving, most of us feel the pressure to produce impeccable table settings, expensive gifts, flawless expressions of love, and perfect family gatherings. Which means this time of year can be incredibly stressful, filled with anxiety, frustration and loads of tension.
So what can you do to not only endure the next several weeks, but actually embrace them? I’ve got some answers.
Give yourself a break
It’s so easy to get caught up in the “noise” of the holidays, and before you know it, your focus is solely on surviving them rather than genuinely enjoying each moment. I was recently discussing this very topic with a client, and she told me about her conscious decision to take a break she calls a Sabbatical of Grace.
When I asked her to describe what that meant, this was her reply:
“I’m just taking some time off this year from the madness. I’m not going to make any big life or work decisions until after the first of the year, and I’m going to be kind to and take care of myself, for a change. I want to be with my family, to be in the present. I just want to be.”
This idea is brilliant. She is purposely taking herself out of the circus, and focusing on what matters the most to her right now. She is allowing herself to be calm, and stay out of the hustle and bustle that predictably rears its ugly head right after Halloween and then finally evaporates sometime in January.
So I say, let’s all do this! Let’s all take a Sabbatical of Grace, breathe and enjoy, shall we? Let’s give ourselves permission to prioritize the meaningful part of the holidays, and let the other, more daunting components fall to the wayside. Deal?
And you know what else? I want you to take a look at that list of all the people you are buying gifts for, and add your own name. “But what do I get for myself?” you might ask. Here are my top ten ideas:
Give yourself the time and space to meditate regularly. If you’re not sure how, there are plenty of online tutorials that will teach you. Download a meditation app on your electronic device, and devote just a few minutes each day to quieting your mind. Another great option is to enroll in Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s meditation series, Become What You Believe. Online programs such as this will help you find a gentle path to wellbeing.
Yoga is one of the greatest gifts to your mind and body – and it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or advanced practitioner. The calm, restorative nature of Yoga is a valuable part of learning and growing, both physically and mentally. Find a studio near you, or check out one of my favorite places, Peace Through Yoga.
Buy yourself a gift.
Treating yourself to a purchase doesn’t have to mean you spend lots of money. Pick up one of your favorite magazines, go to a cozy coffee bar, and hang out in a comfy booth for as long as you like, soaking in every single page. Bring home a bouquet of flowers for your eyes only, or purchase something new for your bedroom or personal space. Don’t buy it for “the family,” don’t buy it because someone else wants it … buy it because it brings you joy.
Start a gratitude journal and simply write down three to five things each day that you’re grateful for. It’s that simple. Practicing gratitude helps in sorting out feelings, and keeping life events in perspective.
Take a bath.
Carve out some alone time to run a warm, luxurious bubble bath. Light candles, pour a glass of wine, and turn off that cell phone. Soak as long as you want, and revel in the quiet. Let your mind wander, listen to soft music, and reflect on your day and all the wonderful things about you. Yes, you.
Read a book.
When is the last time you gave yourself permission to spend an afternoon doing nothing but cuddling up in a warm blanket (in your favorite chair or resting spot) and reading word after word, page after page, with no guilt? Do it.
There is nothing quite like getting out and about this time of year. With endless strands of lights setting a festive mood, gather friends and attend a special holiday celebration, or take a long walk along your favorite outdoor shopping area. Stop and soak in the decorations, schedule a special outing, or attend an event at your preferred place of worship. The possibilities are endless.
Give yourself the gift of someone’s presence. Call that former coworker you adore, or reconnect with your college roommate with a good old-fashioned phone call or personal, face-to-face meeting. Hang out for a glass of wine, or enjoy brunch. Laugh. Reminisce. Smile.
Prepare a meal.
No, I’m not talking about a frozen pizza. I’m talking about real food, spices and a recipe. Fix a nice meal for yourself or with someone special, and serve it on your best table ware! Play your favorite mood music, light some candles, and savor the art of cooking. Fully taste each bite, engage in meaningful conversation, and turn off the cell phones. Make this special meal the main event, lasting as long as you want. No rushing, no stress … just good food, drink and company.
Write yourself a letter.
Take some time to compose a really nice note, letter or holiday card to yourself. Describe how wonderful you are, how much you’ve accomplished, and what you love about this time of year. Remind yourself to breathe, reflect and pause in each moment. Describe the riches you have, the love you experience, and the things or people you find most meaningful. And then address it, stamp it, and mail it to yourself. Yes, really.
What do you think?
These are some of my favorite self-giving gifts for the holidays, but I’d love to hear your ideas, too. Do you give yourself gifts or do special things for yourself this time of year, and if so, what are they? Let’s make this list long! Leave your comments below.