The Mindful Holiday Activity GuideDec 21, 2021
The holidays are often a time to gather with family and friends, and celebrate another year coming to a close. To help you make your holidays mindful and bright, we’re sharing our top 8 Mindful Activity ideas to help you cherish the season and support your health and wellbeing.
Mindful Holiday Activity #1 - Have Some Analog fun
In the age of all things digital, we can spend a lot of time staring at screens. Put the devices away, and have some analog fun. Here are some of our favorites:
- Solo games: Puzzles by Lemonade Pursuit - a women owned business focused on sustainability. We also like solo Yahtzee or Solitaire. Both puzzles and Yahtzee are also favorites for when there are more of us as well. Fun fact, there’s a full list of ranked Solo Board Games as well.
- 2 Player: Dice games like Qwixx and Qwinto move quickly, and offer all players an opportunity to participate each time any of the players roll, so it’s super engaging. We also love Mandala (cards) and Azul (tiles).
- 3+ Players: Our current favorites are Metro, Settlers of Catan, and for a more involved experience Viticulture and Furnace.
- Family play: King Domino, Mickey and the Beanstalk, Candyland and Hi Ho Cherry-O are great for younger players.
- Mixed-ability play: If any players have mobility restrictions, or speaking/hearing restrictions, some games like Yahtzee can be played with both physical dice and a tablet, so everyone can be included.
Mindful Holiday Activity #2 - Connect with Loved Ones Far Away
Our loved ones may be far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have meaningful connection during the holidays. Mindful Holiday Activity #2 is to create a moment for deeper connection for those who aren’t able to share the holidays with us in person. Here are some ideas beyond a quick phone call:
- Participate in a shared virtual experience. Artists, performers and magicians have started to offer hybrid interactive experiences. You can Google “Virtual Interactive Magic Show” and find pages of options. Many wineries offer virtual wine tastings, allowing you to order wine to each of your locations and host an interactive tasting experience together on Zoom.
- Mixed-location board game play: We’ve tested Yahtzee, Qwixx and Qwinto in multiple locations. Each participant needs to have the game, but it works really well on a video call (we’ve tried up to 3 households).
Mindful Holiday Activity #3 - Get Into Nature
The holidays are often so busy, you can wake up one day and realize you’ve spent the last several days in your festive PJs. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood and wellbeing. As mentioned in this article, “In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. “ And Nature is everywhere! Here are some ideas:
- Go for a walk around your home. Look for a park close by.
- Drive to a nearby preserve, forest and recreation area. Take a trail you’ve never tried before.
- Go for a winter snowshoe or cross-country ski. Explore a nordic center, or outdoor recreation center.
- Search for what might be close to where you are, and spend at least 30 minutes outside, connecting with the natural world.
Mindful Holiday Activity #4 - Cultivate Deeper Connections
Being with others doesn’t necessarily mean you’re building deeper connections. Conversation can often stay surface level, transactional or distracted (and there is a LOT of coordination during the holidays). That’s why we love to use conversation cards to generate deeper talk. Some of our favorites include:
- Best Self Cards - they have both an Icebreaker deck (examples: When was the last time you cried and why? What’s the most illegal thing you’ve done?), as well as a Little Talk Deck for conversations with kids (examples: Who are you grateful to have in your life today? What’s something you’d like to do this year? Who did you disagree with today and why?)
- Convers(ate) Cards - Their boxed set includes high level questions (and deeper exploration) on a range of themes, like Gratitude (What would you like to remember about today?) and Progress (In what way are you ‘old-fashioned’?)
- 36 Questions for Increasing Closeness - While we love the experience of the cards above, there are plenty of online resources as well, like the Greater Good In Action’s “36 Questions for Increasing Closeness”
Mindful Holiday Activity #5 - Practice Gratitude
This is an incredible time of year for reflecting on all that we have to be grateful for. Even in the harder seasons of life, facing difficulties, loss or grief, research suggests that focusing on being grateful for our blessings helps bolster our resilience. There are many ways to do this, big and small. Here are a few ideas:
- Favorite part of the day - During shared meals, invite everyone around the table to share their favorite part of their day. If you’re solo, take the opportunity to write down up to three specific things that happened that day for which you are grateful.
- Express gratitude for the little things - Make a point of expressing gratitude to someone else for something they did, and how their actions affected you. Make it specific and detailed. For example, if you’re picking up groceries and the cashier is kind, saying something like “I really appreciated how cheerful you are, it really brightened my day” can go a long way to lift their spirits, and yours.
- Write a letter (or an email) of gratitude - Think of someone who has positively impacted your life this year. Take a few minutes to write them a letter (or an email) expressing your gratitude and letting them know their impact on you.
Mindful Holiday Activity #6 - Reconnect with your inner kid
It doesn’t have to be so serious. Don’t leave the fun to the kids, get out there and play. Make a snowman, a fort, go sledding, start a snowball fight. Take the time to do something you used to really enjoy as a kid at this time of year, and put your whole heart into it. Play!
Mindful Holiday Activity #7 - Read together (or separately)
We love Iceland’s Christmas Eve tradition: exchanging books on Christmas Eve and spending the rest of the night reading. We love curling up with a good book, with cozy socks and a fuzzy blanket. Read together as a family, or have a create quiet reading hour tradition with Hot Cocoa or Hot Cider. Check out your local bookstore or library for some seasonal recommendations!
Mindful Holiday Activity #8 - Give
The holidays are also an incredible opportunity to share with those less fortunate. Giving and being generous can also bring immeasurable joy, as it reminds us of all our blessings. Some ideas:
- Select toys or gently used items to donate to a local shelter, or donate nonperishables to a local food bank
- Donate to a cause in need, many charitable organizations have special matching programs at this time of year, increasing the impact of your donation
- Volunteer. Many organizations are struggling with greater demand and more limited volunteers.
No matter where you are in the world, or who you’re celebrating with, we wish you a wonderful, mindful Holiday season. Through all the hustle and bustle, we hope you find precious moments to pause, connect and reflect.
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