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Slowing down your festive season!

If Christmas is an overwhelming time that leaves you emotionally and financially drained, remember to “slow down” the season so you can reclaim love, joy, and togetherness. A holiday season focused on gratitude, mindfulness, and slowness is all you need to live intentionally and recharge this winter.

Photograph: Unsplash

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

In an attempt to create the perfect Christmas morning, we potentially miss an entire season of joy by replacing it with chaos, overspending, and stress. In a materialistic society focused on having bigger, newer, more expensive things, we trade in the real joys of Christmas for a competitive frenzy of buying things we don’t need. And I get it - it can be hard to go against the grain when the world around you is not bought into a simple, happy holiday season. So how do you change this when the world around you behaves like an energised Duracell bunny? I want to share my top tips for simplifying the holiday season and focusing on what is important.

Pick out traditions you love

If your calendar is usually filled with commitments you rarely enjoy doing, scratch them off the list. Instead, sit down with the family, agree on the traditions you all love, and prioritise them above all else. For whatever reason, the Christmas season comes with all of these obligations that we must conform to… but do we really have to?

Create a cosy environment

Slowing down and being present with your family is much easier when you WANT to spend time in your home. I think it’s safe to say that Danes do this well and where that overused word “hygge” comes from…but it’s seriously a thing, and it works!

If you’re a type-A, go go go, personality like me, it can be hard to let go of that desire to check boxes off a list (yes, I have one) and just sit and be with your family. Creating a space that you love to be in is the solution.

Is it all about the money and the size of the box?

My eldest (now 25) used to count how many presents he had under the tree compared to his brother. Safe to say he doesn’t do that anymore, but when he was younger, it would stress me out if I didn’t have an equal amount of presents for both boys. All we want to do at Christmas time is show the people we love that we love them, and in recent years, we’ve been leaning more and more toward spending money to achieve that goal.

The more you spend, the more you love, right? Wrong. The amount of money spent on a gift does not represent your relationship with that person. I believe the ideal gift shows that you’ve been thinking of them. It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with love.

K.I.S.S - Keep it simple stupid

To bring you joy, your decorations don’t have to be over the top. Go through your boxes and pick out the things that make you smile when you think of them. Donate the rest. You will save time by picking one space in your house to decorate with only items you love. A simple, joyfully decorated home will bring you more happiness than last year’s discounted decor ever will.

Focus on what you have

Most of the year, I’m content with what I’ve got, something I believe Danish culture does well and embraces the simplicity of having “stuff”. But during Christmas (or what I like to call the silly season), there is this pressure and wish to have more of everything. So to avoid panic-fueled shopping sprees, focus on everything you already have this holiday season.

My happiest and most meaningful memories come from simple moments spent with family. A walk in the park, a cuddle on the couch with my boys. Getting dressed in matching cringe-inducing Christmas pj’s - these are the positive memories. I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas when I was 9, but I can remember the feelings of stress and short tempers that appeared when Christmas came around.

Make Christmas about happiness and joy, and togetherness. Don’t make it about the spending and the wrapping and the stress. If you feel like you aren’t doing enough, take a deep breath and focus on spending time with the people you love. In the end, that’s all we really want.

Intentionally building a life, you love to live can be hard work, especially if the people around you don’t share your mindset. This is especially difficult around Christmas when the world shifts into a busy, frivolous, overwhelming season.

If your heart is telling you it’s the right time for a simpler Christmas, listen to it. Simplify your calendar, home, and gifts - Christmas will bring you joy. And remember to give yourself a break when you fumble because changing how you’ve always done something is hard work! Especially when there is so much emotion and memories tied to it. You are on a journey that will bring you even more joy, so take it one step at a time and do what feels right.

From my family and the team at The International, we wish you a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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