I view the holidays the same way I view Pilates: strengthening my mind, body, soul and spirit from the inside out.
Pilates fortifies my body starting with all the muscles that wrap around my core and pelvis, which elongate and stabilize my skeletal system—much like the roots of a tree. From there I notice the increase of strength in my major muscle groups. Comparatively, strengthening exercises that primarily focus on the outer major muscle groups mask the importance of getting stronger, healthier and more limber from my core—imagine how easily a giant redwood would topple without strong roots. (Please note: I do believe most all exercise is fantastic for you, so absolutely “to each his/her own.” Whatever makes your soul sing, you should continue to do.)
I have this same philosophical approach to the Holidays. When I think of “the Holidays” I am instantly reminded of the purpose of the season through time off work, times of celebration, family gatherings… of the fact that we are celebrating Holy-days.
Regardless of your faith, religion or culture, the Holidays offer a universal time of reflection, gratitude and renewal of humility and spirit. I long ago stopped associating the Holidays with gifts and parties and consequently my stress level went way down and my enjoyment of the season went way up. To me, the commercialization of the holidays felt like my branches were getting loaded with things I didn’t need, which put strain on my core and threw me off balance.
In fact, a few years ago my husband and I decided to stop buying and giving gifts to each other, our family and friends. We also told everyone to please not get us anything and to not expect anything from us. Instead, we donate all of the allocated gift money to charities.
I can’t begin to express how liberating and stress free our holidays have been since then. It was one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done. Imagine not having to stress over what to get someone that they’d use more than once, or not having to anticipate being fake-excited over receiving something you don’t want or need.
The exceptions to the no-gift policy are our grandchildren because we do enjoy giving and watching them open their gifts. However, we have done a great job (yes, I’m patting myself on the back) in streamlining the amounts of gifts so that they are able to enjoy the true meaning of the season without it being hijacked by the excitement of getting “stuff.” And, since they don’t see the adults focusing on the importance of gifts, hopefully they are gaining a more authentic understanding of the holidays.
I believe we can all agree the holidays have gotten way too commercial. The choice for my husband and I to go cold turkey (no pun intended) on all the “stuff” has taken almost all of the stress out of the season and allowed us to better enjoy the holidays for what they are meant to be.
What is your non-traditional stress relieving practice that you’ve found make your holidays more enjoyable? Please share! Here’s to sharing, caring and faring well this holiday season. (Don’t worry, I’m not inserting another rap). 😉