How can we make this holiday season mindful?
I pondered this question as I thought about how we’re accustomed to spending the holidays. We often try our best to treat everyone with kindness during this time, however, we end up being unkind to ourselves and our environment without even realizing it.
Holidays are a stressful time and because of this, we tend to disregard self-care and mindful behaviors.
It’s not that we intentionally become unaware, but the holidays can be so hectic that we miss out on opportunities for mindfulness. But if we cast a little awareness on our actions, we can enjoy these special times in ways that benefit us and others equally.
Mindfulness simply means doing things with awareness while being immersed in the present moment. Everything we do with mindfulness—be it on the holidays or on regular days—reaps abundant benefits.
Here are six mindful ways in which we can spend the holiday season:
1. Eat healthy food.
For as long as I can remember, Christmas was my chance to eat a whole lot of unhealthy snacks. And Christmas dinner was usually my treat for being good all year long.
We often wait for special occasions to have food full of calories, and the holidays seem to be a time for us to cheat on diets and promise to get back on track once the New Year comes.
I’m convinced our bodies need our kindness as much as other people do. Serving nuts, vegetable sticks or fruit is a better, more creative way to stay healthy during the holidays. When we are offered chocolate or cookies, we can choose to take small portions instead of big ones. When invited over for a dinner, we can eat from the dishes that contain fewer calories or have a small healthy meal at home so we don’t over-consume all the high-calorie foods at dinner.
2. Shop mindfully.
I must confess that I used to end the holidays with almost no money. I was an unconscious shopper at times—the moment I’d set foot in a market, I’d lose control and the ability to stop myself from making purchases. Instead of buying one gift, I would end up buying two or three for every family member. Nowadays, I only get what’s necessary, what’s useful, and most importantly, what my family or friends will really love.
The excitement of the holidays can overwhelm us and provoke us to buy so many things—more than what we and others need. The advertisements we see on television, billboards and magazines get us hooked on acquiring stuff. Instead of spending extra money on gifts, we can give that money to the poor. We can buy presents for people who are in need (besides our families and friends), or even better, donate them to a pet shelter or charity.
3. Use re-usable bags.
Since we have a lot of shopping to do during this season, we end up with plenty of disposable bags. I don’t even want to think about how many plastic bags I’ve used in past shopping trips. As we know, using plastic bags is enormously harmful to the environment—they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. These bags are a huge threat to nature in general, including our oceans, forests, and animals.
If we wish to impact our planet in a positive way this season, we can start by using reusable bags when we shop.
4. Make homemade decorations.
Every year or couple of years, we spend time and money shopping for Christmas and New Year’s decorations. But there are a lot of eco-friendly decorations we can make ourselves at home. A quick Google or Pinterest search pulls up tons of ideas for mindful decorations.
Homemade decorations are not only more economically and environmentally-friendly, but the act of doing something with the whole family can bring us closer. Additionally, it’s fun to share ideas and try new ones that give our creative energy a chance to emerge.
5. Plant a tree when you cut one down.
So many people still participate in the tradition of cutting down fresh trees for Christmas. Personally, I am against cutting down a tree merely for home decoration. However, if we are adamant about doing this, the best thing we can do is to plant a new one in its place.
If we wish to be extra-kind toward Mother Nature this holiday season, we can get creative and try a homemade tree without chopping down one or using an artificial one.
6. Be kind.
Our kindness is the most important, mindful thing we can practice during the holidays. Some people truly don’t need presents as much as they need love, compassion, and our presence. We should be kind to others, to animals, and to our environment.
First, we need to start with ourselves, extend it to our home, then to our friends and strangers. It is of benefit to start practicing kindness toward all living beings, without exception.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Nicole Cameron