• 7 Things You Must Do Before The Holidays










    Anna Pirkola

    How lucky are we that the year is finally winding down?… Time will soon be still, peace and joy will soon be at our doorsteps and as the year subsides, so will our commitments, emotions and worries.

    Or will they!?

    No. Sadly, we already know that this time of the year is far from still. Our commitments will duplicate, the rush to check goals off the lists we made a year ago will become top priority and worries will be guaranteed. This is not, (regardless of how the movie industry attempts to make it seem) the most wonderful time of the year.

    The holidays are a time when everyone runs on expectations–either of the role they should be playing or the role that they want others to play. This guarantees a slew of new to-do’s: trying to catch up with people that we barely ever see the rest of the year, attempting to fulfill our forgotten goals (turning us into that so familiar breed of holiday monster fighting to fit into a size "x" dress before New Year’s Eve), sobbing on the kitchen floor for having burnt a batch of ginger cookies... and swapping out our plan "A" of signing up for French lessons with frantically downloading Duolingo on our phones–just so we don’t have to feel like we’ve failed.

    True story: Two years ago during this "oh-so-wonderful" time I was knee-deep in work, trying to catch my breath in the middle of all the commitments and struggling to make up for lost time with my daughter–I (as many of us do) ended up over-committing on all fronts because I had for years made it up in my head that the holidays should play out like a perfect orchestra.

    I predictably made countless unfulfilled promises to little EP–(in full-on holiday-beast mode) offered myself to cook Christmas dinner AND New Year’s supper after someone had simply asked if I could "give a hand" in the kitchen department... This consisted of spending a lot of my "free" time at the market... and later on with a hand stuck in a turkey’s cavity or my head stuck in a hot oven. I woke up on Christmas morning to the gift of swollen tonsils and a fever, looking like... Oh, well! I should probably spare you the visuals. Needless to say, it was a sour experience.

    The thing is that while I looked disastrous, my house looked more joyful than myself: there was the tree, the lights, the smell of ginger cookies... If only I had felt as good as the darn house looked.

    What I’m trying to get at is this: The Holidays SHOULD be a wonderful time. It should be a time to spend with our loved ones, to give of ourselves, to indulge in traditions and to ponder the year that’s almost gone–but not at the expense of our emotions and health.

    Living intentionally takes all our self-imposed, non-negotiables out of the equation. It makes us gentler with ourselves. It helps us see the importance of still acknowledging ourselves in the midst of all the chaos. So before we go out there–trying to check off goals and hit the Holiday jackpot by making this the most memorable Holiday experience in the history of the Holidays, let's take care of other things. Ourselves.

    Here are 7 things you can do before the Holiday time:







    Susanna Vento

    1. Hygge-up your bedroom

    Hygge, a Danish term defined as "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." Pronounced "hoo-guh," the word doesn’t have a direct translation in English, though "cozy" comes close. Making your bedroom a little safe and cozy space (before you run around trying to make everything else look inviting) is taking care of yourself.

    Think candles, woolen blankets, slippers, feet-warming rugs, nice scents. Or, if you, like me, live in a hot country: soft linen sheets, fresh scents, diffused daylight, open windows... Whatever makes you feel serene.






    Lina Östling

    2. Take an experimental yoga class

    When it comes to yoga, the benefits far outweigh any excuses in your head. Maybe you think that it’s "cult-ish", that it’s a "girl thing", that it's difficult or boring. Yoga, for me, is something that oftentimes saves me from my next panic attack. It’s a time that "forces" me to reconnect with myself. It helps me do something physical–to concentrate on something outside my routine, my worries and my obligations.

    I don’t do yoga for enlightenment, to be honest. For those things I go to prayer and meditation... but yoga is a thing that inevitably gives you an awareness of your self–it reminds you to be mentally flexible, it makes you feel capable and strong. That’s why I recommend it. I’ve seen even the toughest bodybuilders reveling in its remarkable benefits.

    My favorite yoga style: Flow yoga.





    Mikkel Mortensen

    3. Start a vision board–and make it a thing.

    I was recently asked about the things I do that bring me happiness–and I couldn’t have been more shocked myself to find out that building vision boards can do that in your life. After thinking about it for a while, I realized the following: My vision boards make me focus on the things I want to experience. They set a kind of creative frequency in me that usually influences my work and my emotions.

    Yes, it’s also entertaining to make them... but their return in the actions you take towards your dreams and the empowerment that comes from them go far beyond mere fun.









    Jennifer Hagler

    4. Schedule one hour of non-negotional "you" time every day.

    You’re probably innocently thinking (like I used to): "But I do spend time alone!" Really? You do? Think about this one harder. I personally used to think that my evening shower was my "me" time, that my time preparing supper while catching up with an episode of (that series that was all the rage last year) on my iPad was spending quality time alone. Lie. We need true time for ourselves–time in stillness, time to do whatever and however we want to do it... but by ourselves.

    Time off screen, off duty and off our routine is precious time. An hour every day doing something unplanned–something that we can do for our own sake is precious. Make it a habit to write it down every single day. It doesn’t have to be at a specific time of the day (unless you want to)... just take one hour to be in your own company.






    Karen Mordechai

    5. Learn a new recipe

    I don’t know if this is something other people do... but I can spend years on end cooking the same repertoire every week. Thankfully, my abilities in the kitchen department are not that limited–but yes, it gets boring at times. The funny thing is that I own at least 10 cookbooks and most of them have gone untouched after purchasing them.

    If you're like me, it’s time to dust those off. Let me tell you why:

    Learning to do something new is an eye-opening experience. Cooking, in this case, puts us in a position of awareness and discovery–it awakens our sense to new flavors and textures and it builds up excitement within us–waiting to see how things turn out, giving us the pleasure of having accomplished something that is so gratifying... something that plays with our every sense.








    Riika Kantinkoski

    6. A new evening ritual

    Since we’re being honest here, I have to admit that for the longest time (and given my daily juggling of work, home chores, homework, errands, play times...), my evening routine consisted of 2 steps: 1. Face the bed and 2. Fall flat on it, eyes already closed.

    One day, while working at my desk, I held my face in my hands in desperation. Nothing seemed to be working out. I ran my hand through my crispy, dry hair and thought "Oh, God! I really need to start taking care of myself... but how?". I made the decision right there and then, that I, Ana, would no longer ignore the things that I really needed–and a winding-down routine is what I came up with.

    It really doesn’t take a long time, but it does work miracles–at least in the way we feel.

    Every night, since that crispy-hair incident, I take a long shower before bed, I dry brush my skin some days, some others I put a hair mask or a facial mask on, I massage my feet before bed, I put on my pajamas and lying down in bed I meditate or read and slowly fall asleep.

    It doesn’t matter whether you have 20 minutes or 1 hour. That little bit of time of shaking off the day and relaxing will make you sleep more comfortably and peacefully so you can wake up more energized.



    Amara AU





    Maison Louis Marie

    7. Find a new scent

    You probably didn’t see this one coming–but hear me out: From this post you might have already gathered that I’m a creature of routines and habits... and that, I am. I can be "that lady" who owns 6 perfumes but only wears one and keeps on buying the same. My friends can already feel my presence just by the smell of my perfume... and while that might be a positive thing, I recently decided to change my scent. And what a difference it’s made!

    Switching up such a common thing can have a great and renewed effect on us. Especially with the transition of seasons that have such a profound effect on us and our daily routines and habits.



    Whether you take on one or all seven of the pointers above, keep this in mind: A simple Holiday starts with you–with how you feel, with your own expectations and with your right to claim your freedom and allow others to be free to enjoy this time in the same calmness, simplicity and honesty.

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