LEAP WITH US: Don’t Let the Holiday Pass You By   

(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)

With Christmas just a few short weeks away, it’s only a matter of time before stress levels start to rise. It’s an unfortunate result of such a joyous holiday that, rather than being filled with family, friends and cheer, gets overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping and financial chaos. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As with most things in life, the good times are always far too fleeting and, before we know it, we’re looking back wishing we had stopped to enjoy for even a few moments.

This holiday, why not make a plan to swap out stress for mindfulness? Consider meaningful moments over the perfect gift and choose to be present in every moment. Try a few of our favorite ways to really live this holiday season.

Engage in the five senses

Grounding is an incredibly effective exercise for any anxiety sufferer and it involves being present in the moment to fully engage in the five senses. Not only does this allow us to fully commit to the task at hand, but it allows us to enjoy a vivid experience of everything around us. When walking into someone’s home to wish them a happy holiday, stop to take in the aromas and scents of the moment – whether it is dinner, a scented candle or the smell of cookies baking, choose to truly acknowledge your surroundings. When sitting down for dinner, chew slowly and with meaning, allowing yourself to truly taste the magnificent treats of the holidays. Share plenty of physical connections by hugging a little longer and snuggling by the fire without distractions, while paying attention to the sounds of the world around you – children laughing, fire popping and glasses clinking. And finally, truly take in the world around you by stopping to enjoy the sights of all there is to be grateful for.

Consider a few meaningful gifts

Gift-giving (and getting) can be such a fun part of this special occasion, but it can also be a significant source of stress. What to give, how to afford it, when to find the time to finish the shopping list, it goes on and on. But why not consider a few gifts that, rather than a price tag, come with thought, meaning, consideration and love. Fill a basket with items that are specifically created with someone’s favorite things in mind, add a few inspiring quotes to a jar that can be pulled out each day for inspiration or make a donation in someone’s name.

Slow down

In order to accomplish suggestion No. 1 (practicing the five senses), one must first commit to eliminating the fast pace that often comes with holidays. Starting with a plan is a great way to do this and it allows you the time to go about the day without rushing. Knowing where you need to be and when means that you can truly slow down and engage in the five senses, connecting with those around you and giving of yourself with little expectation.

Open your doors

Looking for a great way to eliminate the stress of needing to be too many places — why not open your own doors? Bringing everyone together under one roof is an excellent way to enjoy all that the season has to offer without all of the time it takes to get from place to place. Encourage everyone who enters this stress-free holiday zone to leave their chaos at the door, while preparing to practice a new tradition that eliminates expectations and welcomes connection, peace and mindfulness.