7 Ways to Simplify the Holidays

Live in each season as it passes; breathe air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Let them be your only diet drink and botanical medicines.

– Henry David Thoreau

It’s that time of year! It is the busiest two months of the year where we cycle through some of the year’s biggest holidays. As I write this, we are just weeks away from the Holiday of Gratitude where we gather and feast and share all the things we are grateful for in our metaphorical harvest. We will eat too much, watch football, laugh with friends and family, and nap on the couch.

And next comes the Holiday of Gifts. Every retailer in America already has red and green elaborate Christmas displays and advertisers are selling us all on all the things we need to buy for our loved ones.

And in between The Holiday of Gratitude and The Holiday of Gifts is the darker holiday of Black Friday where consumerism is in full force, but I digress…

As you read this, I encourage you to feel what comes up for you about this time of year. Do you feel joyful and excited? Do you feel constricted and overwhelmed? Do you feel a combo of the two? The truth is, the holiday season that is upon isn’t always a time of joy and merriment. It can be a time of increasing stress, expectations that push beyond our boundaries, and to be quite honest, a time of emotional upheaval.

Here is the reality:

During the holiday season, we have an increase in the demands in our daily life. Now not only do we need to do all of the regular life things - work, cook, clean, be caretakers to others, be good citizens, and oh fit in self-care. This time of year we have all of that AND we also have the extra demands of the season. We say yes to things we probably don’t have the time and energy for. We spend more money buying gifts that probably don’t need to be bought because we put expectations on ourselves to be perfect and generous. And add in the nostalgia or lack of nostalgia of our childhood connections to this time of year, and whew, there is a lot going on in terms of how we feel, how we are spending our time and money, and the tremendous amount of pressure we are putting on ourselves.

Have you heard of the Danish word Hygge? It’s pronounced ‘hue-gah’. It’s a concept of simplicity and comfort. Some of the tenants of hygge include togetherness, relaxation, indulgence, and presence. Hygge means to deeply connect to the slower rhythms of nature.

Doesn’t it sound just wonderful?

The Danish are some of the happiest people on the planet – maybe they are on to something. Cheap or even free. Hygge isn’t about stuff. In fact, hygge is cheap or free. It’s about a mood. It’s also about moments versus things. And most importantly, it’s about slowing down and relaxing.

Here are 7 ways to incorporate some simplicity, togetherness, and presence into your life to make the holiday season wonderful?

1. Say YES to things that feel cozy and simple. Like spending time with people that you actually want to spend time with. Stay in by the fire.

2. Choose activities that feel nourishing to your soul instead of overwhelming – bonus for doing these activities with friends!

3. Be present in everything you do. When you work, work. When you aren’t working, put your phone away. The emails can wait.

4. Get outside! Go for a walk and connect with the sights, sounds, and smells of Nature.

5. Bring nature into your indoor spaces with flowers, bare branches, pine cones, etc. Get creative!

6. Cook simple, nourishing meals with fresh, natural ingredients – bonus for inviting friends!

7. For holiday gift-giving, choose handmade, local, and mindful gifts.

We encourage you to make your holiday season uniquely your own, filled with good company, beautiful moments, and simple pleasures. Give the whole hygge thing a try and let us know how it goes!

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