Can you believe it’s almost that time of year again. The holiday season.
It can be the best of times and the worst of times. It can be a busy frenzy of social engagements and family celebrations and a stressful season of shopping, poor eating, travel and all-around consumption.
Can we make time for reflection on the year as it ends, a celebration of the moment and the gifts of life, love, family and friendship?
To that end, here are five simple suggestions.
1. Go Flexitarian.
Unless you are a die-hard vegan or a relentless meat eater, you could become a flexitarian. In my totally biased personal definition, a flexitarian is mostly vegetarian but will on occasion eat meat, chicken or fish.
In a broader sense, a flexitarian is willing to be flexible with our diet, while always preparing, cooking and eating food in the most mindful ways possible: buying local produce and ingredients when possible, cooking at home, eating slowly, savoring the flavor and expressing gratitude for the food and company.
Finally, and this is key: a flexitarian is not judgmental of others’ dietary choices. We can only live our own lives and control what we choose to put in our own mouths.
2. Drink & Be Merry.
Whether your liquid vice is alcohol, soda and/or coffee, the holiday season provides ample opportunities to drink in excess—from beer and wine (and whatever else) on Thanksgiving to champagne (and whatever else) as we ring in the new year.
Set reasonable limits for yourself. Practice moderation. For example, I’ll only drink coffee on the weekends. I’ll only have two or max. three beers and then switch to something non-alcoholic.
My rule of thumb is to drink enough to feel it a bit and then stop. I hate being hung over. It’s fun when you’re younger. Eventually, getting drunk just becomes so passe.
3. Savor Sweets & Treats.
Just like with drinking, holiday partying offers plenty of sweet, rich, delicious foods. Let’s be honest: we’re going to eat them. But can we eat a smaller quantity?
The key is eating more slowly. Really appreciating every calorie without guilt. Try to make indulgent foods a special treat just a few times a week, rather than a frequent daily habit.
4. Mindfully Give & Receive.
For the past several years, I have asked my family and friends not to buy me Christmas gifts and instead to donate to various charities or causes. I have donated in lieu of giving lots of gifts as well. I would try to make the gifts I do give: mix-CDs, bookmarks, journals, crocheted hats and scarves.
If you do go the shopping route, there are ways to purchase more mindfully: by knowing who you’re buying from (choosing local stores rather than huge corporations when possible) and by making the effort to buy more recycled and reused products.
5. Go on a Media Fast.
Consumption isn’t just about what we put into our stomachs but also what we are feeding our minds. I find that disconnecting and taking a vacation from email, social networks and all media (except maybe paperback books and my journal) is truly rejuvenating.
Make it a whole day or a week long retreat. Or, turn off your wifi every day after a certain hour. Find what works for you. It’ll all be here when you log back on, don’t worry.
Here’s to an even more mindful, joyful, compassionate season of celebration this year.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Duard van der Westhuizen, Getty Images/iStockphoto