Creating Margins for Holiday Rest & Play

Day 8: Margins crop

How many of you have spent most of this month checking off to-dos and marking yet another commitment on your holiday calendar? For so many folks, the holiday season is crammed-full with parties, shopping lists, tasks to get the house ready for the holidays, school Christmas concerts… the list goes on. So where do we find room to remember what the holiday season is about and connect with a sense of rest and play among everything else?

As a recovering holiday-addict (one who says yes to every party, Christmas baking day, concert, market visit, wine and cheese night… I’ll stop there) there are 3 key shifts I’ve made in how I approach this busy season. If you want to have a holiday with margins (read: breathing room, space to rest, and time to play), then read on!

1| In the words of Marie Forleo, “rocks first, sand last”. There’s this great story that has been circulating for a while now that communicates how we fill our jars with sand (the little, nitty-gritty bits of life that are low priority) and don’t leave any space for the rocks (the big, important and high-value bits of our life). During the holiday season, it’s easy to find ourselves spending time on the things that bring us stress and a sense of busy before spending time on the things that bring us life and true meaning to the holiday season. At the beginning of the holiday season, take time to name those rocks in your life, the things that come before all else. Maybe it’s time to bake cookies with your grandchildren, decorate the Christmas tree as a family or walk through your favorite Christmas light neighbourhoods. Whatever those rocks are, put them in your calendar before all the other pending commitments come tumbling in and take up your valuable time and space.

Rocks first sand last

Image Source: Marie Forleo

2| Practice saying “no” [or at least “I’ll get back to you on that!”]. Once you know what your rocks are and how you want to spend your holiday season, it can be easier to say no to other invitations and commitments that may fly through your inbox. It’s easy to say no to another Christmas party when time with the family to decorate the Christmas tree is already scheduled in that slot. For commitments that may be possibilities, start by saying “maybe” or “I’ll get back to you on that” instead of the instinctual “yes.” Take time to chat as a family about whether or not that invitation brings value to your holidays, or more stress. Then respond in a way that aligns with your values for the season.

3| Cultivate a practice of mindfulness or meditation. What does that mean? Simply put, make time to stop, breathe, connect back in with yourself among the holiday hustle and bustle, and be intentional about how you are approaching the things you choose to engage with. Even though we’re putting the most important things first and saying no when possible and appropriate, there is still a sense of fullness in the holiday season that can take a little extra patience and grace to approach. Research shows that meditation activates the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system, helping us handle stress that much better. [Read more amazing science on meditation here.] When we are in a season of go-go-go, intentionally taking time out to help ourselves better manage the side-effects of this lifestyle have huge benefits. Looking for ways to cultivate a regular mindfulness practice? Check-out the accessible beginners guide over at Headspace. [PS. Makes a great Christmas gift for the high-strung folk in your life!]


How are you saying yes to rest and play this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!

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