Tranquil Holidays

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The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.—Helen Keller

Ah, the holidays. Despite the festivities, garlands, and twinkle lights, this time of the year can feel a bit, well, less than tranquil. To combat the chaos, I’ve tried to adjust my expectations and output over the years.

No more holiday cards. No more piles of gifts. No more trying to squeeze it all in. No more guilt. Simplicity has become my motto. The space between Christmas and New Year’s Day is my rejuvenating reset button.

Our new tradition: head to Tim’s cabin in West Virginia, go to a movie and enjoy Chinese on Christmas Day, roll out the sofa bed in front of a never-ending fire, stay on said sofa bed to read, watch documentaries, and nap. Rinse and repeat for a few days.

What would be your ideal holiday? Time alone. Time surrounded by family. Travel. Staying home. Big meals. Takeout. Candlelight service. Watch Santa’s travel on TV. Big parties. A table for two. The ways to celebrate are endless and shift as we do.

Over the years I’ve dabbled with ways to keep the holidays feeling more tranquil inside and out. While this list is not exhaustive, the suggestions are tried and true. Try those that resonate.

1. Get outside. Brisk, fresh, outdoor air helps ground me. Take in the scent of pine trees and wood smoke. Time in nature builds on a sense of interconnection. This larger view helps put things in perspective.

2. Center. During the hustle and bustle, it’s extra important to make time for self-care. Keep up your favorite centering practices such as sipping tea, sitting on a meditation cushion, writing in your journal, practicing on your yoga mat, or soaking in the tub.

3. Give. Gift your loved ones a batch of homemade jam, a beloved book, an artisanal treat from a small business, a box of their favorite tea (or whip up your own blend), or tickets to see an exhibit. Think useful and consumable. Go for experiences. Rescue an animal. Volunteer. Sponsor a farm animal. Donate to a special cause. Adopt an orangutan.

4. Compassion. This time of year can be hard. Be gentle with yourself and others. Know we’re all doing the best we can. Practice loving-kindness meditation. This may have been a hard year. Honor your growth, lessons learned, and what’s to come.

5. Breathe. When you notice your shoulders creeping up toward your ears, your heart racing while stuck in traffic, or stress building, tune into your breath. Inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, repeat. Again and again. Try this 5-minute meditation.

6. Travel with ease. Print and save the Tranquil Travel checklist on Tranquil Treasures. Save space by rolling your TDJ pieces into your luggage. Choose layers perfect for mixing and matching, dressing up (pearls and heels) or dressing down (clogs and denim jacket). When possible, choose off-peak travel to avoid congestion.

7. Gratitude. Appreciate the little things: a warm bath, a steaming cuppa tea, a cozy bed, a devoted pet. Studies show that expressing gratitude can lower stress levels, help you sleep better, improve self-esteem, enhance empathy, and adjust your attitude.

8. Move. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress, and helps offset those extra holiday cookies. Put on your hiking boots or tennis shoes and hit the trails. Roll out your yoga mat and do a few sun salutations. Grab your bike and begin pedaling.

9.  Celebrate. If you’re feeling a bit of the bah humbug blues, put on your favorite holiday film, create a playlist of festive tunes (here’s one for you!), go see The Nutcracker, and put up a few holiday decorations that evoke good memories. Review the year and list highlights.

10. Dream. Create time to daydream about the new year. What do you hope to see, taste, touch, smell, and hear in the coming year? List everything that comes to mind and focus on the experiences you hope to have.

Have 45 minutes? Watch this video where I share even more!

Any favorite tips that you infuse and I missed? Do share!

Wishing you a holiday filled with your favorite things. Let’s make this season meaningful. And tranquil. And simple. Bisous. x

P.S. Never fear, new Santa pic coming with Gizmo as soon as possible!