LIFESTYLE | My 2019 Holiday (and New Year!) Spiritual Guide
This time of year is always one of joyous celebration, a sacred time to spend with loved ones, host + attend gatherings, sing along to cheerful music, and enjoy pretty lights + festive decorations almost everywhere you go. But the season can also mean stressors, like spending time with difficult family members who you may not feel the most comfortable around but are obligated to spend time with, or feeling the pressure to spend extra money that you may not have just lying around on gifts for your family + friends, and for some, the pressure gets even stronger when there are children involved.
For some, this season means thinking a lot about loved ones who have passed, making the holidays difficult to endure. During this time of year, any emotions of loss, grief, disappointment, guilt or otherwise can be heightened, and some can feel wiped out, low energy, or even depressed.
I am definitely not exempt from this - the holidays have been tough for me ever since my mom passed five years ago. I think about how festive she was - dressing up in fun holiday sweaters, playing Christmas music every day of December, decorating the house with tons + tons of decorations - it was like our apartment threw up Christmas you guys , I’m not kidding - and how opening presents was an all-day affair. Even though she made a very modest living, I always felt super cared for, lucky and even spoiled every Christmas, and it was so special to see how happy it made her to watch me open up all of my presents that she worked so hard to provide.
Even though I did grow up seeing a lot (too much, if I’m being completely honest) of presents underneath the tree each year, as an adult my thoughts + feelings around gifts and how commercialized the holiday has become are pretty real. Truth: Our society puts a LOT of pressure on the “do’s and don’ts” of the holiday -
it has honestly become a rather consumerist time of year, where colorful advertisements are abundant, core values + focusing on what’s really important kind of tends to go out the window, and how many presents are underneath the tree, what home on the block is decorated the most “extra”, and gluttonous behavior is abundant.
Don’t get me wrong - your girl loves gifts (getting them + giving them!), my cravings for chocolate chip cookies + popcorn (my favorite snacks) are real (I am definitely not healthy all of the time) and I can for sure get down on a ham + turkey holiday meal (probably with some seconds) but I’m just saying - it’s a time of year where so-called “Christmas Spirit” can get in the way of mindfulness + gratitude.
I try to live in gratitude + appreciation all year round, but this holiday season, I am feeling it more abundantly than ever. I don’t know if it’s because of my age, what I went through + then overcame personally this year, the blessings that have been brought into my life recently, or all of the above, but I am really feeling in tune with my gratitude this holiday season, which is why I put together this 2019 Holiday + New Year Spiritual Guide. I hope that you have time to read it today before the Christmas festivities begin, apply these ideas for the remaining 7 days of the decade, and carry them with you into the new year.
BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER Whether it’s hosting a holiday dinner at your house, organizing a white elephant gift exchange with friends, or planning a night of drinks out to reunite old friends who are in town for the holidays, there’s a big reward in bringing people you love together this holiday season. Whether you have a close-knit group of friends or friends from different eras of your life (I fall more in this category!) One of the most rewarding things is to bring people together who would not have met otherwise, and to spend quality time with the poeple you love most during this season. Acknowledging community + sharing mindful connection this time of year is truly priceless. RECOGNIZE WHAT IS IMPORTANT + SIGNIFICANT IN YOUR LIFE I have been journaling a lot this year, and it has really helped me come to invaluable conclusions about my life + my past that were pretty profound for me. Our brains can become so cluttered with what is going wrong in our lives, what’s challenging, things we hate, things we don’t have, that it’s important to take some time to sit down + put pen to paper, “brain dump”, I like to call it, all that is worrying us, challenging us, etc. and physically write down all of the good in our lives. Because the truth is; Life is good! And you’ll probably be surprised at how much you have in your life that is meaningful + significant after reading what you wrote down.
SYMBOLIZE YOUR LOVE FOR A PERSON THROUGH A MINDFUL OBJECT
My two top love languages are words of affirmation + physical touch, but my third strongest would probably be gifts. I am actually quite picky when it comes to gifts, and I would rather a loved one give me a gift card to one of my favorite stores or restaurants before picking out something that I may not like. I feel like this sounds kind of picky, bratty even, but because I am so mindful about the “things” that I bring into my life, I don’t want to be in a position where I have too much stuff lying around that I will never use. I do believe presence is a present, but this season, if you are exchanging gifts with loved ones, I encourage you to ask for their wishlists, to ensure that you are spending your hard earned money on something that they will really value + cherish, and don’t be shy to do the same for them.
One of the most selfless things you can do around the holidays is give back. Whether that’s donating your time at a homeless shelter, spending your free time playing with animals at an animal adoption shelter, or donating your old clothes + belongings to Goodwill, giving back is something so easy, and yields instant gratification knowing you are helping someone in need.
PRACTICE ACCEPTANCE OF OTHERS
It takes all kinds of people to make this world go round, so you might as well practice patience + acceptance in an effort to live in harmony with the multiple types of people + personalities that you will encounter while living on this earth (Truth time: Something that I struggle with + am actively working on!) When you practice acceptance, not only does the other person feel understood, heard + well, accepted, but you will also start to feel happier + lighter, not to mention, more understood + accepted yourself.
BASK IN GRATITUDE
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude, It’s that word us progressives just LOVE to mutter every chance we get, but truly, it’s the thing that brings you back to being centered when you’re flying off the rails over something, overreacting about an incident that you’ll honestly get over in an hour from now, or arguing with your significant other that you know you love + would be devastated to lose. Try it next time: Any time you are feeling, angry, sad, disappointed, lost or otherwise, take a moment. Inhale. Exhale. Deeply. And think about (I actually encourage you to write it down!) all of the things that you are grateful for. They can be general things or things about the person/thing you are currently frustrated with and it will bring you back to groundedness every. single. time.