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Holiday Survival Guide

Have a Better Holiday With These Spirituality & Health Resources

Events, Family, and Friends

“One of the antidotes to this cold and depressing time is gathering together, lighting candles or the Christmas tree, and sharing food. This year, the season of indoor parties is likely going to look pretty different ...”
Keep reading to learn more about dealing with the winter blues.

Spotlight Article: 5 Ways to Create New Traditions

There’s a lot to be said for honoring traditions, especially during the holidays. But like a reindeer sweater, sometimes we start to outgrow them. I pulled out an old recipe this year for Thanksgiving, for example, and realized, “I really don’t want to eat Velveeta and butter; why am I making this?!” That was the end of that tradition—serving a particular side dish had to go. Other traditions are must-keeps, such as putting up the ornaments on the tree as a family and reminiscing where and when we got each one. And then there is the opportunity to create new traditions. No matter what stage of life you are in, for this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s celebrate the idea of forging new traditions. Here are five ideas for how to swing it.

  1. Change the scenery. We usually do Christmas with extended family and this year instead spent Hanukkah in the desert with friends. I had no expectations, which is rare. I didn’t know the desert could be so quiet, or that you can hunt for crystals there. Throwing the usual holiday script out the window made it possible to experience the same time of year in an open and joyful spirit.
  2. Bail. One family I know is dealing with a difficult transition. So, for a recent holiday, they went to an amusement park, instead of trying to pretend things were okay and forcing everyone around a table. They had such a great time, with very short lines, that this may even become a new, beloved tradition.
  3. Stop Hosting. For perpetual hosts and entertainers, this can be hard, but you don’t need to play caterer every year. For example, if you usually do a New Year’s brunch and are tired of hosting, maybe you can meet up with those same friends for snowshoeing and hot cocoa instead.
  4. Start Hosting. Conversely, being responsible for a major occasion can feel extremely liberating, especially if you have never pulled it off before. Maybe there’s an older family member looking to pass the torch?
  5. Adopt. If you admire a tradition, give it a go! Just because one didn’t grow up Swedish, doesn’t mean one can’t start making a kettle of Glögg each year. We roll fresh oranges through the open door of our home on Chinese New Year. Some families have Taco Tuesdays. Traditions are part of what make life feel like a celebration, so add, subtract and edit yours in ways that feel meaningful and encouraging.

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Awkward Office Party
iStock/Getty/diane39

15 Conversation Starters for Parties

The good news is that everyone else feels awkward, too. Power through, connect, and congratulate yourself when you’re home. These icebreakers can help.

Family Conflict
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Dealing with Toxic Family Conflict

If you know there’ll be at least one toxic relative to face this holiday season, here’s seven ways to protect yourself and navigate your way forward as sanely and serenely as possible.

Seasons Greetings
DGLimages/Getty Images

Seasons Greetings

Do you say, ‘Merry Christmas’ and risk the possibility of insulting a Zoroastrian? Or do you say, ‘Happy Holidays’ and risk the possibility of insulting a Christian? See Rabbi Rami’s answer.

A Guide to Giving

Spotlight Article: Longings and Belongings: Gift Giving Reflections

Advertising and displays are telling me that it’s almost gift-giving season. But before I jump into a gift-buying dash, I want to think a little more deeply about what gift-giving is all about. Robin Wall Kimmerer devotes an entire chapter in her book Braiding Sweetgrass to a discussion about the gift of strawberries. She speaks lovingly of wild strawberries as unexpected gifts “all wrapped in red and green.” She notes how wild strawberries—like so many other gifts from the natural world—are truly gifts, not commodities.

Kimmerer wraps her discussion about gifts around the idea of connections. A true gift, she says, creates an ongoing relationship. Can I take this idea and make gift giving a little more meaningful this year? Kimmerer differentiates between a gift exchange and an exchange of commodities. She also talks about longings. Commodities are things that can be bought and sold. Once we buy a commodity, it becomes something we own. We add it to our collection of belongings. With Kimmerer’s help, I’m now thinking about a possible connection between longings and belongings. We buy something; it belongs to us—or we give it to someone as a gift, and they add it to their belongings. To what extent do longings and belongings match? This question has, I believe, a lot to do with meaningful gift-giving. Keep reading ...

Ruth Wilson

Gift Hands
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3 Gifts Too Big to Wrap

“Do you grieve the holidays’ material sheen, this season’s increasing status as a time to exchange costly objects? Might we also, or instead, consider giving precious but unwrappable gifts-of-the-spirit to our loved ones or even strangers or ourselves?” Read more.

Christmas Stocking
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8 Mindful Gifts

Meaningful gifts that speak to the passion—and sometimes the pain—of the receiver are often gifts that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Show you deeply understand and appreciate your loved ones with these eight gift ideas for the different personalities on your list.

Earth Gift
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5 Zero-Waste Gifts

S&H Staff Writer Julie Peters says: “I am notoriously hard to shop for. That’s mostly because I hate ‘stuff’—random crap you have to find a space for in your house that you’ll never use.” Rather than focusing on buying more stuff, Julie offers five ideas to honor loved ones with ethical and eco-conscious gifts.

Food, Recipes, and More

Spotlight Article: Feel Nourished Instead of Stuffed

It’s that time of year again; social calendars are full, eating out happens more often than not, and everywhere you turn there are treats to taste and decadent delights to indulge in. If the holidays usually leave you feeling overly full and over-indulgent, start the season with a deeper intention.

There is a certain amount of stress that happens when the holidays roll around every year. It could be that signs of Christmas pop up before we’ve even had a chance to digest Halloween, but nevertheless, it’s there, staring us in the face. We’re encouraged to shop too much, eat too much, and do too much. We can make a different choice though, and change our approach to the season.

Andrea Lieberstein, an expert in the field of mindful eating and author of Well Nourished, wants to help you find a healthier relationship with food. She explains that the core of this healing comes from acknowledging and nourishing all aspects of ourselves. She describes them as our eight bodies, and they include not just our physical, emotional, and psychological bodies, but also our spiritual, social, intellectual, and creative bodies, as well as our feeling of being connected to the world as a whole. Some of us use food to fill in the areas that we are neglecting, and according to Lieberstein, “The first step is shining the light of your awareness on how your life is now. What areas in your life are most undernourished?” Keep reading ...

Kalia Kelmenson

Christmas Cookies
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Recipe: 11 Delicious (and Healthy) Baked Goods

Some of the best memories during the holidays are sparked by the smells that fill the house from the oven. Try these 10 mouthwatering recipes for healthier baked goods to get you into the holiday spirit.

Holiday Cocktails
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Holiday Cocktails: 4 Wellness Spirits to Try

This has been a banner year for so-called “wellness spirits.” From keto-friendly natural wines to spirits spiked with herbs and botanicals, here are four of the more interesting finds.

Holiday Passed Out
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Stop Holiday Binge Eating and Drinking

Rather than just numbing the pain, here are eight tricks to help you avoid overeating and drinking too much this season.

Nourish Soups Roasted Carrot With Hazelnuts Photocredit Luke Albert
Luke Albert

Recipe: Roasted Carrot Soup

Last but not least, there’s always room for soup. This vegan-friendly, subtly spicy roasted carrot soup with hazelnut and star anise will warm you to the bone.

Feeling Nourished
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Mindful Eating

With all the pies, cakes, rolls, and mashed potatoes, it’s easy to overdo it. Rather than stuffing yourself, learn how to make more intentional food choices this holiday season. Excerpt below

Vegan Recipes Cl
Courtesy of Conscious Living TV

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

You didn’t think we’d get through this list without sharing a couple of recipes, did you? Not to fear. Check out these 11 tasty vegan Thanksgiving recipes.

Oregano
Madeleine_Steinbach/Thinkstock

3 Herbal Fixes for Holiday Overindulgence

Sometimes, meditation and affirmations aren’t enough and you need to bring in back-up. Here are three herbal cures to help you deal with anything Thanksgiving dishes up.

Mental Health, Affirmations, and More

Spotlight Article: 3 Ways to Find Light When the Holidays Feel Dark

The holiday season is punctuated by festivities: parties, tidings of good cheer, and the word ‘happy’ tossed around like a hot potato. Many people love the holiday season; it provides a lift and literal light in the dark cold of winter. For a good many others, the holidays are a painful time, a reminder of who they are missing.

The holidays are a time of gathering; a gathering together of friends and family, celebrating traditions and rituals. This gathering however can recall loss in a deep and profound way. If you have lost someone you love in the past year, it feels raw and fresh, and for those who have lost loved ones in years past, this time can dredge up grief in a way that can feel shocking in its intensity.

Grieving and loss is such a personal experience. Honoring grief, and getting guidance and support for how to live with your loss is such an important part of continuing on. You don’t have to pretend to be joyful, but you can consciously choose to create some meaningful anchors of light. Here are some suggestions for bringing light into this season ... Keep reading ...

Kalia Kelmenson

Holidays Not Going As Expected
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12 Affirmations for When the Holidays Go Awry

When Christmas carols start giving you headaches and you burn the sugar cookies, here are a dozen affirmations for holidays gone awry. Excerpt below

Anger and joy holiday season
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Tidings of ... Anger and Joy?

Own your anger this holiday season as you go forth into 2021 prepared to transform those emotions into positive, practical solutions for the new year. Read more here.

Insomnia Woman
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Holiday Insomnia Fixes

An expert in cognitive behavioral therapies targeting better sleep, Dr. Nicole Moshfegh, author of The Book of Sleep, provides six strategies to help you ward off sleeplessness during the holidays.

Cinnamon On Oatmeal
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4 Herbal Cures for Christmas Crises

These simple, easy-to-find herbal remedies will help treat overindulgence, anxiety, tension, and lowered immune systems, all in time for the holidays.

Couple Staring At Their Phones
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Stop Tech From Hijacking the Holidays

Here are six ways to break the cycle of addition to our devices and bring back intention and thoughtfulness into technology use during the holidays.

Healing The Self
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4 Ways to Heal Old Wounds

Old wounds, small and large, often arise during this time of year. Here are four ways to help you move past them and look toward the future. Excerpt below

Celebrating With Friends
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Get Into the Holiday Spirit

Remember the joy and excitement we used to experience as children during the holidays? Let’s bring the magic back! Use these 20 affirmations to help you return to the heart of Thanksgiving.

Holiday Self-Care

Spotlight Article: 7 Self-Care Tips During the Holidays

To the tune of “12 Days of Christmas,” if you will, please: “On the first day of Christmas, my 2016 brought to me, one trip to Denver, two holiday pageants, three potluck dinners, four elementary school projects, five great big boxes...” Why does everything have to happen in December? I know I’m not alone feeling frazzled and overwhelmed this time of year. For this week’s Healthy Habits, let’s pull down the oxygen mask and look at some methods for self-preservation.

  1. Create spaciousness in your day. Look for a tiny pocket of slow motion. Maybe that means choosing a yoga class instead of an intense weights and cardio session. Or take a 10-minute nap instead of vacuuming. The dust will still be there in January.
  2. Connect with the Divine. At this harried time of year, 15 minutes alone with your Spirit Source is not optional—it’s essential. Prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods; however you plug in, plug in. Your universal energy is there, waiting to restore you.
  3. Declutter. As the onslaught of new objects come into your home, make sure things are going out, too. This applies to gifts received, new decorations purchased, winter clothing added to the wardrobe, etc. One in, one out.
  4. Take a Sabbath. Some Christian faiths don’t work on Sundays; for the Jewish faith, Shabbat is from sundown on Friday to the appearance of the first three stars on Saturday evening. In some Muslim countries, Friday is a nonwork day, and for some Muslims, Friday is day for prayer. If it’s not a regular practice for you, you may find it challenging to take such a Sabbath day, but try it once this month, for rest and spiritual enrichment. Turn off the digital devices, skip the mall, spend some time with your family reading and cuddling.
  5. Nap for fun. Cozy up with the softest blankets and pillows you can find and make like a caterpillar in its cocoon.
  6. Ditch the obligation. Oh Nancy Reagan, you do come in handy here. “Just say no.” To putting up decorations you no longer love. To events you don’t have time for. To bringing the lasagna.
  7. Check in. This is especially important for parents and other caretakers. Ask yourself daily, “Are my needs being met?” If your lunch was Pringles and you are going on four hours of sleep, it’s time to step in, on your own behalf. There’s only one you. Be nice to you.

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Finding Calm In Chaos
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7 Anxiety Busters

Even if you love spending time with your family, the holidays can get tense. Though that extra glass of wine can also help with stress relief, try these seven tools to help you keep your cool through the chaos of the holidays.

Gift Wrap
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DIY Skincare

Do you have skincare junkies in your life? These DIY recipes for toner, serum, body scrub, and lip balm will help you give the gift of good skin this holiday season.

Man Stretches Outside Car
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Stretch It Out

You know the feeling: You’ve been stuck in a car for hours. You finally stop for gas and you gently unfold yourself from the seat. Standing up on your tiptoes and reaching for the sky feels awful and great at the same time. Stretch better. Here are five great stretches for a long car ride.

Stretching On A Plane
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Plane Yogi

We wouldn’t dare leave out holiday airplane travelers! Sitting for a long time on planes can be hard on our systems. Get that kink out of your neck, relax those shoulders, and get the blood flowing with these five stretches for a long plane ride.

Thanksgivingtoast
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Managing Holiday Overwhelm

If we struggle to deal with everyday pressures, do we even have a shot at managing anxiety during stress-inducing holidays? Help is here. Learn how to vanquish anxiety and actually enjoy the holidays with these four strategies.

Gratitude
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Be Thankful

In the midst of all that traveling, cooking, and cleaning, don’t forget the reason for the season is to give thanks. Use these four meditations to express gratitude for the bounty in your life this Thanksgiving.


Check this page throughout the season for more tips, advice, recipes, meditations, and more.

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