Chill Out! Getting More Out of the Holiday Season By Doing Less

Written by: Sarah Kolman RN, MA, CHPN, INHC

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One thing that I know about myself (and I’m not very proud of) is that I have the tendency to get “caught up” in life—in what I am supposed to do and in who I am supposed to be. I get “caught up” in social norms and pressures, in being productive, reliable, and portraying an image that I have it all together. Am I the only one?

For me, the holidays can bring with them an extra pressure to perform—in how I socialize and show up at parties and to whom and how I give gifts. Of course I want my kids, husband, friends, and family to feel special and to be fulfilled by the gifts I give them—and that can be PRESSURE! I also want to create a festive and warm holiday experience for my friends and family—more pressure. These pressures are just part of the holiday stressors that create growing to-do lists, dwindling bank accounts, and calendars filled with social events, parties, and travel.

This holiday chaos and pressure can feel disjointed because the energy of the winter season calls us to slow down, cozy up by the fire, do less, and connect with self and others on a deeper level. As I experience the recent snowstorm that hit Lander, I so clearly feel how my body and soul want to retreat inward, to stay cuddled up warm in my house with my little family and close friends. I want to stoke the fire, play games, snuggle up on the couch with a movie, sip on tea, watch the kids play, and just feel connected—to myself and my family. This feels different than summer when I am so jazzed to go outside to be active and social.

My intention this holiday season is to find a better balance between outward expectations/traditions and my inner longings. A balance that is more conducive to connecting and slowing down while letting go of some of the pressures to socialize, over-consume, and perform.

‘Tis the season for gratitude, joy, and meaningful connection. For me, those things are best cultivated in the slower pace of self-reflection and authentic interactions. I am going to try to resist some of my urges to over-consume, over-shop, and give for the wrong reasons. I yearn for a holiday filled with heart and soul, with love and connection. This year, I want my holiday season to be low stress and filled with quality time with my closest friends and family.

I don’t dare completely forego gifts, parties, and consuming by any means—but my intention is not to let busy and externally focused traditions define and guide my holiday engagement. The most meaningful gift—this time of year and always—is the gift of quality time and words of gratitude and appreciation. That is how I want to focus my gift giving and attention this year.

I have been known to be a shaker and a mover, a doer by nature. My December mantra, “Chill out Sarah,” is going to help me shift my habitual tendencies of doing and performing to slowing down, appreciating the little things, and focusing on ways to connect more deeply with those I love.

What do you long for this holiday season?