Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Season of Gift Giving

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it appears that the season of shopping has begun. For many, this may signify spending extended hours at the mall searching for those “perfect” gifts. Crowds, noise, traffic, and multi-level sensory distractions of flickering lights and non-stop music can create physical and mental symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. Grabbing quick meals on the go can further aggravate health and contribute to a variety of stress-related illnesses. Are you on this yearly cycle? If so, consider making a few of the following changes to your shopping experience.
Offer gifts of the heart. The gifts of forgiveness and gratitude are timeless. Create a hand-written note to take the first step in patching up a squabble or pen a thank you note of deep appreciation to someone who brings special light into your life. Regardless of the reasons, a heartfelt letter is cathartic for the writer and uniquely special for the receiver. Wrap the letter in a box and place it under the tree or mail it in a specially selected card. Is there an experience that you and a loved one shared this year that had been captured in a photo? Frame the picture and attach a letter letting the person know why sharing that moment was so special. Let us all take the time to let those we love know how we feel about them.
Give the gift of time. Is there someone you have wanted to spend some quality time with, but obligations have gotten in the way? Select an event that you both could share (a show, a concert, a dinner, a breakfast) and then enjoy the special moments and memories.
Honor your loved one with a donation in his/her name. Is there a cause that your loved one is passionate about (environmental, children, health, women, food)? Find an organization that represents the values of that special person and share that value with those who urgently need it in the world.
Reconnect with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. An e-mail or text is easier, but a conversation by phone has a way of making connections more meaningful. Remember one person a day and make those connections during the month of December. Is there a cousin, nephew, or friend that you have been meaning to call? Now is the time.
Does someone you know need encouragement? Make a wish jar. Include pieces of colorful paper, each with a special wish for that person for the coming year. Love, peace, tranquillity, hope, and faith are just some of the wish tokens that could be included in the jar.
Offer the gift of listening and a comforting hand. This year’s holidays may not be easy for some people. Do you know someone who has experienced a family death, personal hardship or is alone this year? A thinking of you note or baking a banana bread and sharing a cup of tea may be the greatest gift that you could offer this year.
Take the time to breathe. Your breath is your anchor. Honor it with gratitude. Take care of yourself by pausing frequently throughout the season and returning to a quieter place. Offer yourself a sense of calmness.
The best gifts are not found at the mall or the outlet stores. They are found in the openness of our hearts, the peace in our minds, and the warmth of our hands.

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