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Unwrapping Peace – Gift #2

December 7, 2023

Last week, I wrote about the first gift of the holiday season, Stop and Notice. Here is gift #2 for bringing peace to your season, S-L-O-W D-O-W-N! We often say that time is moving so fast that we don’t have time to spare or that we want to slow down. What is stopping us from slowing down and taking a pause?

What does slowing down look like?

Creating an intentional pause in your day. 

Stop and take several deep breaths, really deep breaths. Get up from your desk and move from your computer for a 5-minute walk or a 1-minute dance party. 

I like to take a break from my computer to wash dishes. In doing this, I am moving from an activity where I am in my head to an activity where I am in my body. I was using my thinking power to write this post and moved to an activity where I felt the warm water on my hand, the smell of the lemon dish soap, and the clanking of pans as I submerged them into the water.

Slowing down takes you from your head to your body in a very tangible way. Slowing down during the holidays helps you prioritize what traditions to keep, what traditions to let fall away, and what new ones to create during the holiday season. 

How can I slow down during the Holidays?

Holocaust survivor and author Viktor Frankl says, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” 

Growth and freedom are letting go of perfectionism. Letting go of the expectation of “Hallmark” moments during the season. Letting go of “perfect”. Let’s be honest: there is no perfection except in the commercials of the season. Who here has cried during a touching commercial for a coffee company or card maker, or this year, is it the one for a pick-up truck? My hand is raised high! 

Holidays are made for slowing down and remembering what traditions you want to keep. One tradition our family has kept is making the Scandinavian holiday flatbread, Lefsa. My mother-in-law taught me how to make this traditional flatbread, and during the holidays, I take out the lefsa griddle when the kids come home to make a batch for Christmas Eve dinner. 

Is there a tradition you do at holidays that helps you connect and slow down?

One tradition I have let go of over the past years is baking cookies. I now order my Christmas cookies from a local baker. Another one is putting up lots of decorations; I now pick out just a few that I really like to display around the house. 

So what are the traditions that you are keeping? What are the ones that you are letting go?

New traditions are always fun to start. I am excited to attend the Nights of Lights in my community with my family this year. This event has real potential to be a new tradition for us.

Slowing down can be a challenge anytime throughout the year—however, it is a real challenge during the holiday season. Create a pause and set your expectations low. Allow yourself to keep some traditions, let some go, and create new ones. Enjoy the connections you are making this time of year! 

Try This:

  • Write down all the things you are currently doing over the holiday season. Now, take the list and put a “K” by the ones that are important to keep, and cross out the ones you want to let go. Then, write down one new activity or event you would like to do this season.
  • If you are in a classroom or office setting, find a time when you can intentionally take a few-minute break. Set a timer to take a quick lap in the hallways, or just close your eyes for a few deep breaths. Create a pause and see how it can help you to slow down.

Next week is gift #3 for you!