Navigating the holiday season can be overwhelming. But, if you make room for them, moments of peace and joy can be found among the chaos. In this guide, you'll find our thoughts on finding time to rest and reset as you prepare for a brand new decade. We'll discuss how to set healthy boundaries with family and friends during the holidays and we'll explore the concept of generosity. We've also included a list of gifts that you'll feel great about giving. Happy reading and happy holidays!
All is Calm
With only two days until Christmas, and after a particularly busy day, I was completely exhausted. I dropped into bed, and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out! It was only seven o’clock at night.
The next morning, I awoke fresh as a daisy. The only problem was, it was at four in the morning. So, I stealthily rolled myself out of my side of the bed, trying not to awaken my husband, threw on my oversized fluffy robe, and carefully closed the door behind me as I left the bedroom.
I quietly walked over to the kitchen and made a cup of tea, and served myself a slice of the chocolate chip banana bread I’d made earlier that week. I then went into the living room, struck a match, and lit a scented holiday candle. I turned on the Christmas tree lights, grabbed my usual cozy spot on the couch, threw a warm blanket over my lap, and enjoyed what was the most peaceful and memorable moment I’d experienced all season.
I had been so busy and overwhelmed in the weeks and months leading up to Christmas, that I hadn’t had the opportunity to really slow down and take in the true spirit of the holidays. And, here it was! While the world around me slept, I sat amidst the glow of my Christmas tree, slowly sipped my tea, prayed, and reflected on how grateful I was for every blessing in my life.
This might seem like some far-fetched, Hallmark movie moment, completely detached from what’s possible in reality. And, believe me, it felt that way for me, too. But, I cannot tell you what those few hours early that morning did for my soul and well-being. They realigned my perspective on the season, and gave me the opportunity to really experience gratitude for how far I’d come over the last year. And, for the things that truly matter in life.
This holiday season, I encourage, and even challenge you, to pursue quiet moments of solitude, and peaceful reflection. Maybe you’re a mom with a bunch of littles running around the house. Maybe you’re up against a million deadlines at work. Or, maybe you’re a small business owner trying to keep up with the holiday rush. Whatever your situation, carve out some time in the busyness of life to embrace quiet peace. Take yourself out for a coffee date with a good fiction novel. Go for a peaceful walk in a snowy ravine. Or, pop some popcorn, and watch a classic, black-and-white Christmas movie. Whatever you do, slow down, and enjoy a rare moment where all is calm.
From me and mine, to you and yours…Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Being Intentional About Taking a Break
All year round, there’s pressure to hustle, hustle, and hustle some more. With a precarious job market, mounting student loans, and constant comparison on social media, culminating with back-to-back holiday obligations, New Year’s resolutions, and most-liked-Instagram-posts collages, it can feel like that pressure carries into the holiday season. But, bucking the busy trend, and finding even just a few quiet moments to rest and reset will help you come out ahead in the long run.
The Hustle & Bustle
Most of us have a jam packed social calendar in December – from office parties, to client lunches, to catching up with old friends and out-of-towners. Top that with the falling into the comparison trap of social media, scrolling through Instagram and seeing what everyone else is up to – business competitors, exes, and that girl from your Thursday night HIIT class who kicks butt without breaking a sweat.
Next stop on the pressure cooker express? The New Year frenzy. Since most people put their best foot forward on social media, expect to hear primarily about everyone’s 2019 wins, their lofty goals, and big plans for 2020.
Are you breaking out in hives yet?
Science Says Slow & Steady
While, it may seem like you should be spending the holiday season at every single social event by night, and creating a master plan for 2020 by day, don’t forget the incredible value of resting, pausing, and reflecting.
Don’t have to take my word for it, the science checks out. A study examining brain scans from participants found that moments of creativity occurred more readily when the brain was at rest rather than at work. Rest has also been shown to increase productivity and innovation as well as motivation and attention. As researcher, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang puts it; ‘you get more done when you do less’. In fact, there’s an array of important neurological processes that take place while we’re seemingly idle. Remember, it was the tortoise and not the hare that won the race in the end.
Rest is a vital component of success, so use this holiday season to prioritize it. If you find yourself caught up in social media comparisons, consider a tech detox. Focusing on introspection – grab a piece of paper and write down your stream of consciousness. If you struggle with being idle, go ahead and schedule ‘do nothing’ time in your calendar, the same way you would a meeting. We see you Type A’s out there. You’ll be surprised what great ideas and important revelations might come your way as you quietly sit on the couch, minding your own business, just sipping that hot chocolate.
So, although it might be tempting, don’t get too caught up in the holiday rat race. You’ll probably end up spinning your wheels and burning yourself out. Instead, invest in rest and you’ll reap the rewards all year long.
We carefully selected these gifts to help you, or your loved ones, to take time to rest, reflect and practice mindfulness as you navigate the holiday season, and prepare for the new decade ahead.
Whether you’re hosting the family dinner this year or you’re the single aunt with a million nieces and nephews to buy presents for, financially navigating the holidays can feel like tiptoeing over landmines. One false move, and BOOM!…you’ve overspent on your credit card, dug too deep into that savings account, or, worse, you’ve actually gone into debt to bring the “magic” of the season to life. When it comes to money, and your relationships with family and friends, things can get complicated and messy, quickly. And, in no other season is this more evident than during the holidays.
Establishing and maintaining healthy financial boundaries is the best gift you can give yourself, and, believe it or not, your family and friends. Here’s why it’s so important, and the drama-free ways that you can implement financial boundaries this Christmas.
Boundaries are essential for healthy relationships
Having healthy financial boundaries doesn’t mean you suddenly become a selfish jerk. It simply means establishing clear guidelines for how you’re going to conduct yourself when it comes to money.
In his best-selling book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life, psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud says, people with weak boundaries tend to have a low level of self-awareness. They’re often people-pleasers, worried they’ll be perceived negatively if they don’t help out. Not only is this unsustainable from a financial perspective, it’s an unhealthy way of interacting with the people in your life. It’s reduces relationships down to an exchange of resources, rather than feelings of affection and closeness. Of course, we all have a responsibility to one another, to help whenever we can, but this doesn’t override the emotional nature of the relationship.
Unhealthy relationships manifest themselves in subtle ways. They’re typically associated with feelings of guilt, selfishness, and obligation – all of which are emotionally, mentally, and of course, financially draining. Now, add the pressures of the holidays to the mix, you’ve got a cocktail of unhealthy, counterproductive financial associations.
Boundaries begin with understanding your own needs
Establishing healthy financial boundaries begins with taking an inventory of your own needs, and affirming that those aren’t “bad” or “selfish”. You can’t love others until you love yourself; acknowledging your own needs is an essential form of self love. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we have different levels of needs that we’re trying to meet.
What psychological needs are you trying to meet this holiday season? Are you trying to satisfy a need of belonging, or intimacy? Does buying expensive gifts for people, that you can’t afford, make you feel like you’ll be better liked? What are you afraid of happening if you don’t spend on these things this Christmas?
These are all really difficult questions to ask yourself, which is why so many people avoid them. It’s also why most people “manage” their finances so passively – unaware of how much they actually spent on gifts, parties, booze, and all the other trimmings of the season. And, more importantly, why they spent what they did.
Let’s be very clear here – there’s nothing wrong with spending money over the holidays, as long as you have a healthy why behind the buy.
Communicate boundaries clearly and directly
The unfortunate reality is that whenever you set boundaries with people, they may not have a pleasant reaction. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t firmly maintain the boundaries that you have set. That may mean you tell your friends you’re no longer able to participate in the group gift exchange. Or, letting your parents know your intentions to only attend one family gathering this year. Or, perhaps you only gift experiences, as opposed to buying things.
Ultimately, it’s about standing up for your needs in a way that will allow you to be a happier, healthier version of yourself. Gifting from desire, and ability, not obligation. Opening your heart, home, or wallet from a place of abundance, not of lack or insecurity. As it relates to money, it’s your responsibility to manage yours wisely. By setting appropriate boundaries, you stop taking on other people’s responsibilities, leaving them with no choice but to resolve their own problems, find their own resources, and take responsibility for themselves.
You may feel guilty about this at first, but in the long run, this is better for your loved ones. It will improve their functioning, their ability to do things for themselves, and will actually improve your relationship with them. If it doesn’t, then you’ll have gained insight into the true nature of that relationship. Surround yourself with people who will respect you by respecting your boundaries.
Money is a beautiful tool with which we can affect great impact and change in this world. But, unless you protect it with clear, responsible guidelines, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and those you’re trying to help. Don’t let your relationships sour over money, especially over the holidays. Establish healthy financial boundaries your own well-being, and the well-being of your relationships.
How to Be Generous Beyond Money
Between your shopping list, dinners out, parties, and festive decorations, your bank account takes a big hit over the holidays, leaving little to give to non-profit organizations that you were hoping to support. But, thankfully, there are many meaningful ways to generously give without breaking the bank. There is more than one way to be generous this holiday season!
Here are some tangible ways to practice gratitude and generosity this holiday season that are easy on the wallet, and go beyond money altogether.
Gratitude Is Good For You
As the year comes to a close, there is no better time to reflect on what we are grateful for. There is an immense and robust body of research that has demonstrated the many benefits a gratitude practice has on one’s well-being. But, what does gratitude have to do with generosity? A number of studies in both psychology and neurobiology show that gratitude and generosity go hand in hand. Tara Brach, a clinical psychology researcher who combines Western psychology with Eastern spiritual practices, says, “Gratitude is like breathing in – letting ourselves be touched by the goodness in others and in our world. Generosity is like breathing out – sensing our mutual belonging and offering our care.”
Practice Gratitude on Paper
So, take some time to write down the names of the people, circumstances, and things in your life for which you’re grateful. And, be specific. Why are you grateful for that particular co-worker? Or, that new client? How did that resource impact your personal or professional life? The deeper you dive, the more value you’ll get from cultivating a gratitude practice.
We’ll bet the more you think about love, kindness, and the help you’ve received from your loved ones, the more you’ll want to pay it forward. So, get creative with how you give back!
Love Don’t Cost A Thing
The most inexpensive (or, completely free!) gestures and gifts often mean the most. Maybe your Mom brings you a home cooked meal on weeks where she knows you’re overwhelmed with work. Return the favour and bring her a meal to share over the holidays.
Perhaps your favourite workout buddy has kept you motivated to make it to spin class every week, treat them to a class, or a post-workout smoothie!
Maybe you’ve lost touch with someone meant a lot to you; stop by for a visit with a coffee or a hot chocolate. When in doubt, a handwritten letter is always a thoughtful, and creative way to give back as well.
If your gratitude practice revealed circumstances in your life for which you’re grateful, think about a population who lacks those advantages. You don’t need to make a cash donation to have an impact, although that doesn’t hurt. Rather, consider volunteering your time instead. After all, time is the most valuable resource anyone could give – once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. And, it’s increasingly scarce with ou busy, jam-packed schedules.
So, while you might love to take all of your friends on a trip to Miami, or buy your parents the house of their dreams, don’t feel bad if your budget doesn’t have that kind of wiggle room (yet!). The truth is, giving back is far more meaningful when it comes straight from your heart, and your schedule, rather than just your bank account.