Somewhere around year zero, a man named Cornelius Tacitus travelled through northern Europe. During the winter he discovered that instead of taking the opportunity to stay active, the indigenous people more than often gathered around a fire to unwind and take it easy. Cornelius had a great understanding of this and thought that this was the only reasonable way of living at this time of the year.
With Christmas approaching it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by demands and must do’s. We live in a fast-paced society and the demands we put on ourselves and those thrown at us stop us from doing what our bodies tell us to do – to slow down, just like the indigenous people from the north did at the time Cornelius travelled through Europe.
Sometimes the only thing we need to prioritize our own well-being is new good advice or being reminded of something we already know.
Personally, my best ways to slow down at this time of year is spending a lot of time offline, never working after dinner, and creating as many situations as possible that don’t cause copious amounts of stress. I also make sure that, as an INFJ and highly sensitive person, I really take care of myself when it comes to resting and having “social” breaks when needed. Drinking a cup of tea by the window while silently watching the starlit sky on a social gathering, taking a power nap in the guest room and having a day of total non-commitment can all be lifesavers.
I asked The Free Woman team about what they do to lower their stress levels and fully enjoy this season. Here’s what some of these wonderful ladies had to say:
Bethany Morris (Editor in Chief):
The holiday season can be a blessing and curse, all at the same time – family gathered, gifts, entertainment, abundance of food, preparing, time. The biggest thing I’ve learned to do is simply stop putting pressure on myself, especially when it comes to things that are out of my control, and write everything down that needs to be done or is upcoming. If you can see it, you can be (somewhat) prepared for it. Focus on being present over perfect and grateful for the reason for the season.
For me it’s really all about spending time with family I don’t typically get to see during the year. Presents are exciting, but really it’s not what the holiday is about – I have more fun joking and playing games with my cousins than I do opening presents. Last year nobody bought each other presents because we are all pretty broke so what we did instead was go around and tell each other what we would get each other if we had endless amounts of money. Best Christmas ever! I came out with a house in Germany, a gymnastics gym all to myself, diamond earrings, and a house on the beach!
In the midst if celebration, it can be all too easy to lose touch with the reason behind the festivities. So, first I take time to ponder. It requires a pause, a breath in which I ask myself, “what is being celebrated?” This brings a necessary element of reflection into my life.
I also take time to wonder. This comes as a result of seeing the things being celebrated clearly and responding in an open attitude of awe.
These two frames of mind can be cultivated in a variety of ways. I write down my thoughts, chat with a friend, steal time away from the hustle and bustle. Whatever creates an environment to make space for personal reflection and wonder, that is what you’ll find me doing from time to time over the holiday season.
As a very introverted person the holiday season can be tough! Giving myself time to be alone keeps me sane and sometimes even just stepping into a bathroom for some quiet during a get together is the difference between being bright and bubbly or completely overwhelmed and miserable. My mother and I like to have a craft project ready which helps keep everyone happy and potential drama at bay.
In order to de-stress and fully enjoy the holidays, I take time to do things I normally don’t have time to do (or am rushing to do in the morning) – morning devotions & prayer, journalling, painting my nails, write thank you letters, send out holiday cards, etc. I also enjoy being with my family, laughing with my siblings and being in prayer with the people who take away all of the stresses of this world and adult life. Being able to be like a kid again is the best stress reliever ever. I can’t wait!
I have a huge family so holidays are always very very hectic. Because I’m the oldest cousin I end up doing a fair bit of the work. On the Canadian Thanksgiving this year my sister and I hid in the bedroom for a bit of quiet – it did the trick! I also try to make sure I don’t overbook and that things get done ahead of time so it’s not all last-minute rushing around. Making time for baths and alone time, being patient with myself, making sure I have allergy-free food to eat so I’m not sick, etc. And simply stopping to enjoy the people I love, have fun, and notice the beauty of the season.
‘tis the season for inner peace and calm. Here’s to fully embracing (slow) life this Christmas!
– image credit: Briana Carrion