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Health and wellness

6 tips for a slower, less stressful holiday season

November 1, 2021

Decorations, presents, lots of Christmas-theme school activities: The lead-up to the holidays is often a whirlwind of shopping and frenzied preparations. What if this year you took the time to live in the present? This is what fans of slow living recommend and practise to find a new balance. During this period when the days fly by and many of us yearn for rest, here are a few tips for slowing down and reducing the stress of the holiday season.

An offshoot of the slow food movement, slow living is a new way of being and living that often involves a change in priorities and sustainable activities.

The term “slow” is used as an acronym for:

S = Sustainable - having a limited impact on the environment

L = Local - encouraging the production of local, artisanal products

O = Organic - using more natural farming methods

W = Whole - using unprocessed products

The term “slow” is used as an acronym for:

People who practise slow living believe that faster-paced living, increased performance and greater efficiency are issues that affect society and the planet.

1. Reduce your consumption

If ordering in just a few clicks seems easy, taking the time to properly select an item by going to a local store will be more gratifying.

By shopping in a physical space, you can establish more genuine relationships, get personalized opinions and advice, and explore new options that are more in line with your expectations, values or lifestyle. Plus, along the way, new thoughts and discussions will likely brighten your day!

Whether it’s for you, your children, your friends or your parents, buying a used item is a great way to recycle and reduce production, and to find objects that often have a story to tell at bargain prices.

By encouraging local merchants and production, you’re helping the local economy, while limiting the environmental footprint associated with transportation and polluting energy sources. Remember: In the medium or long term, a durable item is a better buy than a lower-quality item, purchased several times.

2. Keep socializing to a minimum

Do you love parties and visits with loved ones during the holidays? If they wear you out physically and mentally, it may be time to strike a balance.

By rotating your yearly visits with people, you may be able to stay longer in one place and truly enjoy meaningful moments with friends and family.

More tips to avoid zooming through the holidays

  • Plan some time off for yourself!
  • Schedule some activities on less busy dates.

Whether you’re on your own or with your partner, friends or family, remember that quality time is probably the most precious gift you can give yourself and your loved ones.

3. Look for free activities

It’s almost magical how free outdoor activities encourage you to slow down. Walking or sledding in the park, skating, running errands or simply enjoying a stroll through your neighbourhood are great ways to unburden your mind and lighten your heart.

Explore a new library, write for fun, prepare and share a holiday music playlist, listen to a podcast series (in French only), read a book, play board games or put together a jigsaw puzzle—it’s finally time to take the time!

4. Nourish your body and mind

Which would you rather receive: a generic gift or Fadi’s spaghetti sauce, Fannie’s cookies and André’s pâté? Food is comforting and makes people happy, especially if you take the time to prepare it from scratch, and use unprocessed, local ingredients.

Food is also at the heart of holiday festivities. At the table, take the time to savour and appreciate the dishes prepared by your hosts.

A memorable experience doesn’t always mean a big party and karaoke. Whether on your own or with people, a breakfast, brunch or lunch, especially in the wintertime, is ideal for enjoying the daylight and immersing yourself in a more intimate and relaxing environment.

Are you hosting a dinner? Keep it simple and plan ahead: Your guests will prefer you spend time with them rather than in the kitchen.

5. Give yourself the gift of time!

Turn gift-wrapping into a Sunday fine motor skills activity rather than a last-minute stress.

Try making and writing your cards in advance, while listening to soothing music. Lacking inspiration? Simply write a few words about a memorable moment with the person or congratulate them for something they did. Take the opportunity to turn off your phone and disconnect from social media.

6. Focus on the essentials

This might be the perfect, stress-free time to think about your priorities and what you really want to achieve.

A word of advice, though: It’s not about being selfish, but about exploring what really matters to you. In other words, connecting with your true self.

When you embrace the principles of slowing down, you should notice the beneficial effects not only on your mind and your heart, but also on your finances. Focusing on what matters most also means taking care of yourself. Enjoy slowing things down!