by Hannah Rau
During holidays or vacations, does the pressure to HAVE FUN ever get in the way of actually…having fun? Personally, I often struggle with stressful thoughts during these times: “Am I having fun? Is everyone else having fun? Am I making the most of my time? Will my loved ones enjoy these gifts/cookies/activities? Should I be doing more for others?” With the focus on giving, we need to make sure we take care of our own spirits too. We need to Relax. (let go) and Refresh. (drink deeply) before we can Renew. (give back).
Ironically, the times that are meant to be restorative can often turn out to be the most exhausting. This is often due to the obligation we feel to make things special for ourselves and others. The Spirit of Christmas is generosity, kindness, celebration, and joy. Isaac Watts’ well-loved carol “Joy to the World” says let “heaven and nature sing.” But busyness and stress can make us feel like anything but singing. So how do we find time to relax and refresh during this busy time to make sure the holiday restores us and enables us to renew our efforts to give back?
Relax. (Let Go.)
First, we need to let go of whatever is causing undue stress. Sometimes that involves stepping back from busyness and taking some time alone for yourself or time with others to just be together. Depending on whether you are an introvert or extrovert, the things that restore your energy will be different. If you’re feeling the pressure of the holiday, designate some time to find what relaxes you.
Refresh. (Drink Deeply.)
Second, relaxing and refreshing doesn’t always mean doing nothing (although we sometimes do need time to do nothing). Sometimes taking on a new challenge or choosing an activity to do just for fun or for personal development can also be restoring. As you let go of busyness, choose a just-for-fun activity that helps you enjoy the season.
Remember, these are just suggestions. Different things relieve and cause stress for different people. For example, I organize things to relax—few things are more satisfying to me than cleaning out a drawer or closet and getting rid of things. But I have a close friend for whom organizing causes stress. The key to relaxing and refreshing is getting to select the activities that are restoring for you personally.
With that said, here are some wintry ways to relax and refresh this season—both together and apart.
Take a walk outside. Take a series of deep breaths of the cold air to clear out your lungs and sharpen your mind.
Take a warm bath with a seasonal-smelling soaps or bubble bath.
Light a candle with a seasonal scent.
Make some coffee, tea, or a beverage of your choice and listen to Christmas music.
Get lost in a good book.
Challenge yourself to do an activity you’ve been meaning to try.
Organize or decorate your personal space.
Play a board game.
Stop everything, go outside, and have a snowball fight.
Take turns reading a favorite story aloud together.
Make a snack or a treat just for fun.
Have a song or quote guessing challenge.
Spend some quality time with a pet.
Have a holiday movie night
Whether our relaxing time is together or alone, noisy or quiet, tidy or messy, we all need some time to let go of busyness and drink deeply at Christmastime. Feel free to comment with some of your own favorite relaxing and refreshing activities.