Slowing down during December’s excitement? No, it’s not impossible—it’s a gift you can give yourself.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” goes the old song. But what makes the holiday season so wonderful can also make it stressful—full calendars, gifts to give, favorite foods to prepare.
So should we even try to slow life’s busy-ness during December’s excitement? Shouldn’t we embrace the hustle and bustle, cherishing the chance to spend time celebrating the season?
The French poet Molière is quoted as saying, “The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” You might consider that quote in light of a Christmas tree, or take it as a reassuring thought as you notice the leafless trees that line winter streets and pathways.
Slowing down requires intentionality. We must choose not to get swept up in a constant rush. How? Here are three places to start.
1) Don’t Be Afraid to Say, “No”
It can be tempting to say yes to every invitation to gather, celebrate and spend time together with friends and family this time of year. But if three invitations come up on the same day, consider choosing one to attend and extend sincere regrets to the other two. If you don’t sometimes say, “No,” you run the risk of having three half-conversations (and three half-plates of food) rather than one meaningful, relaxing gathering with people you care about.
2) Think “Slower” Not “Slow”
When you’re eating, notice the pace of your chewing, and try to slow it down a bit to savor each bite. When you’re driving—even on your hundredth trip to the mall—note the speed limit and relax your foot. You might even give up a parking space to another car to do a good deed while you’re taking your time. Walk slowly on icy sidewalks. And above all, notice your breathing, and do whatever you can to slow your inhales and exhales, breath by breath.
3) Scale Back the Tech
The lure of the phone or tablet is constant. Try to limit, or even mildly scale back, your scrolling time so you can keep your mind wholly focused on whatever it is you’re doing in that moment. Responding to an email while in line at the post office might feel like an efficiency (and sometimes it is), but it can also distract you enough to be jarring when it’s suddenly your turn, and you’re mid-sentence in your reply.
What helps you slow down during the busy holiday season?