The holidays are a time of increased love, joy, sadness, and stress — sometimes all at once!
For the past five years, the Hudson Healing Arts blog has explored this “full feeling” time from different angles. We’ve covered tips on getting grounding in gratitude, giving back, finding grace in grief, and taking really, really good care of yourself (which is the best gift for you and your loved ones).
This year, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and share some of our favorite ideas from holidays past! No matter what this season looks like for you, we hope you find healing and inspiration in our archives.
Sunday morning 20-minute retreat
The holidays bring a time of wonder and special moments with loved ones, but the pressure to fit everything in can mask the beauty of the season. That’s why our resident counselor Andrea Inauen is such a big fan of this simple self-care tool for your toolbox. Before the start of your week, this short exercise can help you set small, achievable goals for a memorable, enjoyable, and peaceful holiday season.
1. Take 3-5 minutes in a tranquil space. Do slow, methodical breathing, inhaling for 10 counts, with the 8, 9, and 10 count being as deep an inhale of fresh air as possible, then exhaling for 10 counts until your belly and lungs have expelled the air from your core. Visualize an inhalation of clean, pure air, and the exhale of toxins, stress, and worry. This breathing can help re-center and give you a sense of calm and gratitude to let the joy and wonder of the season take shape.
2. After 3-5 minutes of breathing, ask yourself what you want your week to look like (not what you NEED to do). Do you want it to be productive, peaceful, joyful, predictable, social? There is no right or wrong here, but identifying the tone you want for yourself can be a guiding force to build your week and remind yourself that you are in the driver’s seat.
3. Then, start to make a list of the few essentials that you need to fit in — work, childcare, commitments. Remember that you are only one person!
4. After the few big essentials are down, fill in the remainder of your list with what you might want to do - buy gifts, see a movie, call a friend. Recognize that you will get to some of these, but in order to keep the tone that is most important to you, some of these may have to be moved to another week....and that is okay.
5. What is one act of kindness that you can add to this list? It doesn’t have to be a big commitment - but rather phoning a relative, buying a coffee for someone who you think could use one, or giving a compliment to someone. These small acts can remind yourself to be grateful for what you have and that you have the capacity to give.
6. That is it! Look at your list, and remind yourself that you are in the driver’s seat and that to find joy, peace, or whatever tone you want, at least to some degree, starts with you. Of course, there are external factors that can change things in a split second. However, to start with what is important to you can give you greater navigation and a direction to return to when busyness and pressure try to take hold.
Gratitude for simple seasonal pleasures
It’s so easy to get swept up in the stress of doing more — but as we say at HHA, “more often just means more.” The wonder of the holidays really is found in the simple things. What did you delight in as a child at this time of year? Chances are it will still enchant you!
When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, make a cup of spiced tea or hot cocoa. Take a few moments to breathe in the aroma and savor a sip. Take the scenic route to admire the holiday lights. Curl up with your pet and watch your favorite holiday classic. Whatever brings your heart peace, move towards that! Check out our 2017 blog for more stress-relieving tips.
Get in the giving spirit
The meaning of the holidays can get lost in all the excess, but there’s nothing like helping those who are in need to help you regain a sense of perspective. Remember, you don’t have to have lots of money to brighten someone’s holiday. Asking yourself one simple question — “What do the people around me need?” — can help you tap into the wellspring of generosity that lies within you.
Maybe that means inviting a neighbor over for dinner, giving warm gloves to your mail delivery person, or telling your coworkers how much they mean to you. Take time to smile and say ‘thank you’ to sales clerks, servers, and your local barista. Their good service makes your life easier and they deserve acknowledgement and a kind word – especially during the holiday season!
You might also volunteer or donate to a charitable organization. You’ll feel better for it and it will enrich another life in ways you may not even imagine. Check out our 2021 blog for ways to get involved with local organizations doing amazing work in Hoboken and New York City.
Celebrate the winter solstice
The winter solstice might not get as much attention as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza, but we highly recommend celebrating the shortest day of the year (and of course, the return of the sun!). Amid the holiday frenzy, the winter solstice is a sacred time to pause, reflect, release, and set your intentions for the coming year.
Use social media mindfully
Social media can be embraced as a tool for connection rather than comparison this holiday. It’s all about getting clear about your intentions and paying attention to how it’s making you feel.
For instance, you can FaceTime faraway loved ones to include them in cherished rituals, share a GoFundMe campaign to lift up someone in need, or make a collaborative playlist of holiday tunes with your family. Check out more ideas on our 2019 blog.
Create hygge in your home
Hygge is a delightful Danish concept that has been described as a coziness of the soul. The essence of hygge is comfort and contentment.
At HHA, we’re big believers in the energy of physical spaces. We love the idea of creating cozy spaces, and there are infinite ways to impart this quality into your daily life and boost your wellbeing. Best of all, it doesn’t require you to spend a dime! Take a look at our 2020 blog for inspiration.
Come visit us!
As we often say at HHA, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Nourishing your mind, body, and soul ensures that you can better pour into your loved ones and enjoy the holidays from a grounded, peaceful state.
Check out our full list of healing modalities here. We truly hope this trip down memory lane resonates with you, and helps infuse your holiday with compassion and peace. Sending all our best wishes!
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.