It’s the happiest time of the year. Reconnecting with family and love ones, giving thoughtful gifts, cooking delicious dinners and cookies, all reasons why the holidays have such a special place in our heart. But keeping your head on your shoulders through all the non-stop festivities and activities can be...difficult.
Luckily, peace and mindfulness is our goal here at The Paper Seahorse, and no amount of Christmas traffic and last minute shopping can keep you from being your best, mindful self.
These are some of our favorite ways to stay sane during the Holiday season. What better gift to give yourself than a little peace this time of year?
Sleep, sleep, sleep!
This is the biggest one.
Even though it’s a given, it’s shocking how many of us don’t get our recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis, and yet not shocking because we’ve all experienced it! With a significant change in our schedule during the season - gift shopping, family in town, cooking, decorating, a surge of workload at our jobs - our already precious hours of sleep dwindles even more. 1 in 5 Americans say they expect to lose sleep during the holiday season.
A great way separate daily stress from our nightly sleep is having bedtime habits - These are rituals that, when done on a regular basis before hitting the pillow, send a signal your brain saying “this is bedtime, it’s time to fall asleep now.” Think of it as Pavlovian conditioning for sleep.
Hot tea is your nighttime ritual's best buddy
Going to bed at the same time every night is a great start. Try turning off your electronic devices an hour before bedtime and instead reaching for a book (we’ll get into more detail on that in a second). Also, making a good cup of herbal tea is great for relaxing your body and mind. A favorite bedtime drink of ours is “Golden Milk”, made with turmeric and ginger. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties has a calming effect and aids digestion. Here’s a great recipe for knocking you out into dreamland. The soothing jasmine of our Signature Blend tea is also great at lulling you to sleep.
Take time for a good read
To those of you that swear reading is your tried and true method for relaxation, science is on your side. Research from University of Sussex has shown that just 6 minutes of reading can make you significantly more relaxed. It’s also has a significantly more positive effect than checking social media or watching TV shows or YouTube. Reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68% and help you sleep better.
Whether you’re tucked under your sheets, waking up in the morning, or just getting off work, any time is a good time for a reading break. Reading’s stress-reducing power is most effective when you’re reading something interesting and your mind doesn’t wander. We highly suggest a copy of Flow Magazine and their engaging writing on all things mindful and creative - issue No. 27 was just released this month!
Remember to Breathe
Breathing exercises means taking in air through your nose, and letting your lungs fully expand and your belly fully rise. Easy, right? Deep breathing, or “breath focus”, regulates heart rate, stabilizes blood pressure, and relieves stress and anxiety, and you can do it at any moment of the day. It’s also a good time for practicing meditation.
According to research from Harvard, “breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations.” The next time you’re hunting for a last minute gift idea, stressing and overthinking will never come close to the benefits of intentional, focused breathing.
Try 4-7-8 Breathing: To start, exhale completely through your mouth. Close your mouth, and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Then, exhale completely through your mouth to a count of 8. Repeat the cycle and enjoy the de-stressing benefits.
Keep a journal like it’s your best friend
Journaling is especially helpful at the end of the day, but it’s also a great practice to keep throughout your day.
Journaling helps you take all those intangible thoughts, ideas, actions, and emotions, and connect them in new ways. It’s a key tool for self-reflection, noting our accomplishments of the day, expressing joy for the good things that happened, and letting go of the worries that do nothing but disrupt our peace.
However you decide to journal - whether bullet journaling, writing freeform, or using a Traveler's Notebook - it is incredible tool for organizing swirls of thoughts during all the holiday activities, and is helpful for remembering to be grateful during this precious time of the year, which leads us to our next tip….
A secret ingredient for happiness is sitting right inside of us. It’s our ability to give thanks. When we remind ourselves to notice the good things in our life, and the people we love, the inherent result is a sense of happiness.
An easy starting point for expressing gratitude is identifying 3 things that you’re appreciative of in your life. Then, 3 people your appreciate. Then, 3 things about yourself you appreciate. Gratitude knows no bounds and you can continuously be grateful throughout your day, as much as you like, for as long as you like.
Gratitude can be expressed any time, but the holiday season is an especially good time for thankfulness - thanks for presents we give and receive, thanks for the family and friends we have, and thanks for another year of our lives.
It's also not a bad idea to start a Gratitude Journal.
Having our hands full during the holidays may be inevitable, but coping with all the activities and remembering what’s actually important during the season is a few steps easier this year.
So get some sleep, read a book, fill up your journal, and don’t forget to breathe while expressing thankfulness this season! We hope these little tips have helped to give you a glimmer of calm and peace. We wish nothing but the best and happiest time for you this season.
Stay warm and Happy Holidays! Much love from The Paper Seahorse Team.❤️
Visit our YouTube channel to see how to make these adorable origami Christmas Trees!