• The Vindicator

Making the Most of the Holiday Season

Make the holidays merry and mindful this year with these simple ideas.

Written by: Samra Karamustafic


The holiday season is officially upon us: a season of spending quality time with friends and loved ones, donning our favorite ugly Christmas sweaters, and chugging way too many holiday drinks from Starbucks.


But, do you ever feel as though the holiday season comes and goes in the blink of an eye? You might find yourself still mentally in the month of October, only to realize that Thanksgiving is just a few days away!


Luckily, you’re not alone. Many of us can relate to the adage of time passing faster as we get older, and the holidays are no exception. With work, school and our personal lives, it’s easy to get caught up in assignments and to-do-lists, then suddenly realize that it’s already time to go gift shopping!


Although we may juggle far more responsibilities than we did in childhood, it certainly doesn’t mean that we’re no longer able to enjoy the holidays as much as we did when we were younger. There are plenty of easy ways to make the most of this festive and merry time of year, no matter how packed your schedule may be.



DECORATE


There’s just something about decorating your home for the holidays that instantly gets you in the holiday spirit. Shuffle a few of your favorite holiday tunes or play your favorite holiday movie in the background and make an evening of decorating your home, apartment, or even just your bedroom. The best part? Decorating your space doesn’t have to break the bank! Stores like TJMaxx, Homegoods, AtHome and Target have adorable decorations that will fit any college student’s budget. (Seriously, the $5 section at Target during the holidays is a godsend).


But, it gets even better: turns out, decorating for the holidays is actually beneficial for your mental health! In an article from November 2020, HuffPost spoke with several psychologists who explained a few of the mental health benefits of putting up your holiday decorations. For instance, decorating your home for the holiday season and deciding where everything goes can help you feel more in control.


Decorating is also an excellent mood booster because it gives you something to look forward to, which is perfect for a season where the days are shorter and we’re indoors for longer. Plus, decorating can even serve as a healthy distraction from some of the more not-so-fun things in life, even if it’s just for a few hours.


So, don’t feel guilty for taking an entire day to transform your living space into a winter wonderland; science says it’s good for you!


WATCH YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES


Is it really a holiday bucket list if we don’t mention a Christmas movie marathon?


In all seriousness, this is an easy and surefire way to get into the Christmas spirit. Whether you’re an avid fan of the Hallmark channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” or you like to stick to the classics like “A Christmas Story,” either way, you can’t go wrong. Invite a couple of friends, bake some yummy holiday treats, and take a few hours to watch a couple of your favorite holiday movies. Or, if you’re really strapped for time, have a holiday movie playing in the background as you’re doing whatever needs to get done — just make sure not to get too distracted!


Like with decorating your living space, watching your favorite holiday movies can improve your mood, decrease your stress levels and even strengthen relationships! If you’re watching these movies with loved ones, the nostalgia that comes from these films can “bring people together due to the focus on family values and close bond,” as DoYouRemember? reports.


GET OUTSIDE


Listen, I get it: Sometimes, going outside is the last thing you want to do during Ohio winters. It’s much easier to bundle up under a heap of warm and fuzzy blankets instead of snow pants and winter coats. But, have a little fun and make an event out of it! Get a few friends together and go sledding, skiing, or nature walking. Not only will you get to embrace the winter season in all its (chilly and blustery) glory, but you’ll also get a chance to spend quality time with those you care about.


Plus, you’ll be doing your mind and body a favor by getting outside, too. According to Psychology Today, getting outside in the colder months can boost your mood, give your body some much-needed vitamin D, and relieve any stress or tension. It’s a win-win!


GO ON A MINI SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX


The holiday season is a time of celebrating, relaxing and creating memories with our loved ones. It’s also the perfect time to cultivate a little mindfulness amid the festivities. While it’s tempting to get a snapshot or a video of all of the joyous moments — the openings of presents, the get-togethers, the cherished holiday traditions — to share on Instagram or Facebook, perhaps think about setting aside some time away from your phone during the holidays.


This isn’t to say that you should avoid posting online whatsoever or even thinking about picking up your phone. One way to look at it is to apply the phrase “everything in moderation” to social media during the holidays. Take pictures of yourself and your family in your adorable matching PJ sets on Christmas morning, then set the phone aside once the opening of presents begins. By setting the intention of taking a small break from social media when you’re with family, you’re taking a step towards being a bit more mindful this holiday season.


GIVE BACK


Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our own lives that we often don’t pay as much attention to — or have the time for — giving back. Luckily, the holiday season can serve as a great reminder to us all to give back and spread cheer — and what better way to spread some holiday cheer than by performing random acts of kindness?


You can lend a helping hand in a number of simple yet meaningful ways this holiday season. You can drop some change in the red kettle each time you pass by a Salvation Army bell ringer, donate clothes to an organization or shelter, volunteer at a food bank and so much more. Giving back is the gift that keeps on giving; not only are you helping those in need, but you’re also reaping numerous mental and physical health benefits. According to the Cleveland Clinic, taking the time and effort to volunteer can lower your stress levels, make you feel happier and even increase self-esteem.


This holiday season, make a point of giving back — whether that’s by donating canned goods to a food drive or volunteering at your local YMCA’s Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas movie marathons and seasonal Starbucks drinks may help get us in the holiday spirit, but so can giving back.


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