25 Days of Peace

The angels proclaimed on the first Christmas, “Peace and goodwill to all.” Yet, the Christmas season seems to be about everything but peace in our hectic, consumeristic society. We can sing all the Christmas tunes we want about peace, but unless we deliberately focus on it, we won’t experience those promises. 

Here are some mindful ways to experience peace this holiday season. And, because these are ways to live peacefully, do not burden yourself to do them all or catch up. Participate in one, five, or all twenty-five. It’s up to you. This Christmas list is intended to relieve stress, not cause it. 

  1. Candlelit Quiet: Light a candle and sit for five minutes. Meditate on your hopes for the season. 
  2. Sink into Your Senses: Be still for a few minutes. Name three things you see, three things you smell, three things you hear, three things you can feel, and three things you have tasted that day. Great activity to invite children into your pursuit of peace. 
  3. Watchful Walk: Take a mindfulness walk and look for sights and sounds that conjure the holiday spirit in you. Bring along your children, your spouse, your family, or your friend to share in the stroll. 
  4. Christmas Carol Journal: Play your favorite Christmas song with your journal open. Listen to the song and then write a positive memory or the lyrics that resonate with you. Write what emotions arise when you hear the song. 
  5. Purposeful Picnic: Make a pizza or order takeout and dine with the family inside on a blanket in front of the fire. Talk about your day and focus on the fun of sitting on the floor. 
  6. Savor Your Snack: Christmas is often filled with all types of baked goodies. Take a few minutes and savor one of your favorites. Pay attention to the texture, the weight, the color, and the smell. Eat slowly and notice the taste and texture. 
  7. Graceful Gratitude: Jot down three things you are thankful for today. They can be specific to the holiday season, or just important to you in the moment. Try to remember those things throughout the day. 
  8. Christmas Movie Time: Sometimes nothing can brighten your day more than a Christmas classic. Turn off all other electronics. Cuddle with some blankets (turn down the air if it’s a warm Baton Rouge day), heat up some hot chocolate, and pop some popcorn. Laughter works wonders. 
  9. Emotion Evaluation: Pause and ask yourself how you feel in this moment. Identify your present emotion and identify how you know you feel this way. Inhale and exhale. Accept your emotion and move on. 
  10. Color Therapy: Snag some Christmas coloring sheets at your local library branch, borrow your kids’ crayons, and color your heart out. Invite your kids for some quiet coloring or color all by yourself. You’re a grown up, you can color whenever you want. 
  11. From Task to Treasure: Choose a chore like dishwashing, cooking, folding clothes, or making beds. Be present and focus on your body and your senses during the chore. 
  12. Paint Party: So, you’re not an artist? Who cares? This is for peace not a prize! Grab a paintbrush and some paints, and create an abstract expression correlating with a holiday memory or a holiday scene. 
  13. Bubble Bath: Escape with some essential oils, bubbles, and candles. Maybe you need to decompress from shopping or planning. Maybe you need to soak for a few minutes. If you’re feeling extra Christmasy, listen to some Bublé with your bubbles. 
  14. Evening Reflection: At the end of the day, spend five minutes reflecting on the day. Specify one good thing, one frustration, and one thing you can improve. Write these down and write a gratitude from the day. 
  15. Relaxed Wrapping: You can turn gift wrapping into a joyous occasion. Focus on each crease, the feel of the paper, and the sounds of the scissors. You don’t have to be an expert, but you can use the time to be quiet and present in the moment. 
  16. License to Chill: Christmas traffic can be a doozy on our peacefulness. Try this tip today. While driving, become aware of body tension, like your hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, shoulders raised, stomach tight, etc. Consciously work at releasing, dissolving that tension. Inhale and exhale deeply and shake out your hands and shoulders. 
  17. Christmas Card for You: Write a card to yourself to be read next Christmas. Answer the following questions in your letter. Who are you today? What makes you happy? What are your goals? What makes you sad? What are some things you are struggling with? What are all of the wonderful things in your life? 
  18. Dance It Out: Put on some of your favorite songs (Mariah Carey “All I Want for Christmas” is a must), and have a dance party by yourself or with your family and friends. Dancing releases stress and makes you feel rejuvenated. 
  19. Christmas Tree and Tea: Put your favorite holiday tea in the kettle and grab your favorite mug. Find your coziest blanket and sip your tea in front of the Christmas tree. No screens. Just you, the tree, and tea. Probably best at night when the kiddos are asleep. 
  20. Baking Bliss: Whether you are a master baker or a cake in the box kinda gal, set aside some time for intentional baking. Be present in the measuring, the stirring, and the sensing. Focus on smell, touch, and taste while you bake. 
  21. Play! We don’t typically have snow around here, but you can still play outside. This is your day to get silly with your kids. Play pretend, make up a game, design some winter events. Smile, work up a sweat, and laugh. 
  22. Hygge Time: Indulge in the Danish practice of cozy comfort, also known as hygge (pronounced Hoo-gah). Choose a new novel, grab a blanket, hot drink, a holiday-scented candle and spend some time reading.
  23. Nature Walk: Go for a walk to gather pretty leaves, twigs, feathers, berries, flowers and nuts, and then make a nature mandala with them when you get home—photograph or sketch it, then destroy it, making a wish as you do so. 
  24. Ornament Observation: Choose an ornament and sit for three minutes holding it in your hands. Notice the texture, color, shape, and patterns. This will help you be present in the moment. 
  25. Morning Meditation: Either before or after the gift chaos, set aside three minutes to meditate on the meaning of Christmas for you. Get alone, sit straight, breathe deeply, and meditate/pray. Meet the day with gratefulness and focus. ■

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01 Dec 2017

By Joy Holden

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