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How to Have a Restful Holiday

Slow down and celebrate mindfully.

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Restful Holiday

The holiday season is said to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” But often, it can become the most stressful time, marked by a larger than usual to-do list and a full calendar of events. The rare week off that many finally allow themselves is often consumed with so much activity that people roll right into the new year bleary-eyed and longing for another vacation. There is a better way though. Here is how you can create a restful holiday season for you and your loved ones.

Rest from “Making the Rounds”

The first way to have a restful holiday is to cut out all the extra visits. You can spend so much time traveling to visit friends and extended family that you neglect your own holiday rituals. Sit down with your partner and decide which visits to prioritize, while putting your immediate family first. This may cause friction. However, consider a plan that allows you to connect in a more meaningful way with your closest loved ones.

Rest from cooking 

In addition to making the rounds, another holiday time hogger is cooking. Now, cooking favorite recipes can be a fun tradition and one that connects families to their roots. But, it can often fall disproportionately to one family member. While everyone else enjoys the festivities, they work tirelessly in the kitchen. Keep it simple and order takeout. Maybe a unique non-traditional holiday carryout meal can be a new ritual that allows everyone to relax rather than worry about the menu. 

Rest from rushing gift time

A third highlight of the holiday season is exchanging gifts. So much careful time is spent shopping, wrapping, decorating, and waiting for the time to open them. Yet, in a matter of minutes, wrapping paper is obliterated and all gifts opened in a flurry. Instead, families can consider slowing down the process and opening gifts one by one. That way, everyone takes part in seeing what others gave and received. That level of restraint might take younger family members time to get used to, but it can make such a difference in actually connecting to each other during that sacred time of sharing. 

Rest for rest’s sake 

Another idea for having a restful holiday is to, well, rest. Pick at least one “lazy day” during holiday vacation and try not to lift a finger. Cozy up in your matching family onesies, make hot chocolate and watch a movie marathon of your choosing. Or, immerse yourselves in your individual favorite activities while seated in the same room (such as the kids playing on their tablets while the adults read or take a nap on the couch). The purpose here is to pause from the constant activities that mark the season and actually rest and recharge. Make your holiday feel like an actual holiday.

Rest from the year 

A final suggestion for a restful holiday is to take time to rest from the year. This entails quiet reflection on the highs and lows of the previous twelve months. Think about what challenged you and what changed you. What hopes do you hold for the future? Then, do this individually, with your partner, or with your kids. Get quiet and be still to contemplate where you have been and where you are going.

Final Thought

Don’t let the most wonderful time of the year become overcommitted and overwhelming.  You can do things differently this year. Make an earnest commitment to rest from the traditional holiday stressors by ritualizing rest. In doing so, you can foster a more mindful and meaningful way to observe the season.


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Dr. Crista Glover is a licensed professional counselor, writer, and adjunct professor in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She has been practicing full-time since 2007. Her clinical interests include burnout, compassion fatigue, and how to use mindfulness and movement in health promotion. Part of her unique philosophy of care comes from her personal journey toward wellness that she shares in her book, “Healing through Movement: Getting Back Up After a Broken Heart.”

After years of running her own wellness website, she now continues to share the gospel of wellness as host and creator of her podcast, Come Find Rest, available anywhere you listen to podcasts. She also has a virtual wellness practice called Come Find Rest Wellness Group, offering education, consultation, and respite for the “Superwoman.” Follow on Instagram for weekly reminders to pause and breathe and subscribe on YouTube. You can also email her directly at [email protected].

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