'Tis the season — of busy schedules, intense family time and the big dreams of young and old. However, it's very easy to get caught up in the stress of the season and forget to just breathe (preferably outside).
Our society runs at a record pace, especially around the holidays. While I know I am stating the obvious — it's easier than even I like to admit to not take that to heart. We want to do it all...and have our Christmas cookies too.
Over the years I have noticed even more of a rush and a focus on the here and now instant gratification with the increasingly popularity of smart phones, tablets, online calendars and other technology. While I speak in general terms, and that obviously doesn't include everyone, we are all so plugged in, we are forgetting to notice the things closest and most important to us.
We enjoy the festive lights through the lens/screen of our smart phone; we are busy videoing the sledding fun instead of joining in; we are tracking packages through our emails at a moment's notice (not to mention shopping as we literally walk/drive/stroll).
And here's the truth - I am completely guilty.
But, this year, these next few weeks I am going to be working extra hard to unplug, even just a little bit more. The phone will be set aside, the computer left off, the memories captured in my mind instead of via Instagram. I challenge you to join me.
Here are Some Easy Ways to Unplug for the Holidays:
- Leave the phone at home, in your jacket pocket or in the car. Resist the temptation to check social media outlets.
- Need the phone to stay with you to be in touch with family? Turn off notifications and use it JUST as a phone.
- Set auto-reply on your email and don't worry about it until you're back at work.
- Go "screen free" as a family, even just for a day. No phones, tablets, iPods, computers or TVs.
- Prohibit screens (or whatever is most distracting for you as a family) from the kitchen and bedroom. Talk to each other, play a game or read a physical book.
We've found the easiest way to unplug is to get outside as a family. The days seem to go quicker on the mountain, in the woods or on the trail. Undoubtedly, the undivided attention is appreciated by all, and we come back refreshed and rejuvenated. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or extreme. Some quick ideas:
- Go on a walk in a new place. Check out those holiday lights by foot instead of in your car.
- Try out snowshoeing. Many outdoor gear shops have really cheap rentals and snowshoeing requires no extra skills. Take along any family that is visiting with you.
- Go sledding. It is not just for kids! Invite some neighboring families and bring a crock pot of chili and lots of hot chocolate.
- Cut down your tree instead of buying one this year. Bring the whole family. "I need to stay home to cook/bake/decorate" is not a valid excuse.
- Have clear roads? Go on a family bike ride.
- Go skiing (downhill or cross country.)
- Build a snow fort
- Bake Christmas cookies and then deliver them to unsuspecting neighbors
- Go hiking or geocaching
We challenge you to make this year different — less stressful and more present and available to the ones you love.
How do you plan to unplug for the holidays?
-Amelia lives with her husband and two young boys in Yellowstone National Park. She writes over at Tales of a Mountain Mama and tweets, too, about their attempts to continue an active, outdoor lifestyle now that babies and kids are in the mix while hiking, camping, biking, skiing and doing plenty of exploring. She shares her triumphs, lessons learned (often the hard way) and best picks for gear to help get families outside.