Don’t Hibernate, Celebrate: Making Space for the World During the Holidays

The holidays are such a special time of year. While many people want to hibernate indoors, I spend even more time outside when it gets colder and especially in the snow. I spend half of the month at home in New York City and the rest of the month in Florida with family. It is all about balance for me, and that means spending a lot of time outdoors in the fresh cold air before I head to Florida. Then, while it isn’t usually hot in Florida, I can still go for long walks/runs with family and friends. I eat and enjoy the food of the season but make sure that I also am mindful of what will help me feel good, which is spending time outside and getting a good night’s sleep.

Here are some of my top tips for finding your own personal balance this holiday season.

  1. Get outside every day. It can make difference, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. My walks with family and friends are a great opportunity to talk and catch up on life. It’s such a great time of year to make time for those you care about, and spending time doing something good for your body and your brain is a win-win for all involved.
  2. Give yourself permission to explore. Whether it’s your neighborhood, an adjoining neighborhood, a local park, or anywhere that will allow you to just shut off and look around, take time to discover what is around you. Often we are “too busy” to enjoy the moments of the holiday season, and it’s important to just walk around sometimes and see the sights around you. In December, I love hopping on the subway in New York and heading to neighborhoods that I don’t usually spend time in, just to see the decorations and smell the air of fireplaces or the freshly cut Christmas trees for sale that line the streets.
  3. Do yoga for your brain. We often think about walking like running—getting from point A to point B in a certain amount of time to burn a certain number of calories. Instead, turn your walk into a mindful meditative practice. Take your earbuds out and sunglasses off (if you can walk in a shaded or canopied area), because this will allow you to fully activate your senses and be more aware of the sights and sounds around you. By shutting down all of the open tabs in our brains in a way that we don’t get to do in a gym or when we are indoors all day, we can appreciate each walk as a gift, one that’s different from the last one or the next one. The sunlight, the clouds and the temperature are all different and offer us something new each time we go outside to enjoy them.
  4. Embrace nature. When was the last time you felt a living organism that wasn’t a human or a pet? When you breathe in fresh air and touch a tree or a leaf, you are activating your natural biome to be healthier and closer to nature. The more technologically-driven our lives become, the more nature we need to counterbalance that. Since we spend more than 90% of our time indoors, we don’t activate our senses by smelling or feeling living things around us. We are a part of nature, and cutting ourselves off from it damages our overall health. As children, we played outside for hours in the dirt, the trees, the trails and the sand. Our bodies thrive when we interact with other living organisms besides humans. The benefits to our mental health allow us to be more mindful and empathetic to living creatures around us.

This is a time of year to enjoy with those that you love. It is important to know what makes sense for you, what will make you feel good and healthy. This is different for everyone, and understanding what works for you is the first step of a wellness routine. Enjoying the simple things that help your body/brain—like going for a walk with people you enjoy spending time with—is a gift for all.

Learn more about Ketchum’s Wellness Council and check out these additional holiday posts from other Wellness Council members:

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Jennifer founded Beauty Bar, the first omnichannel beauty brand in the U.S., before selling it to a major retailer in 2010. She recently launched Walk with Walsh, a platform showcasing “nature smart” people and brands to unlock the stories of those that bring nature into all that they do. Her Nature Green Print (NGP) program underscores the importance of walking mindfully through nature to bridge the gap between nature and brain health.