The season of gifting is upon us, and while it’s certainly not the only point of this time of year, it's definitely a big part of it. I could sit back and say that gifts don’t matter or that I don’t like a surprise but that wouldn’t be true. No point in faking it!
The truth is that gifting is a love language that we all respond to in one way or another. We all behave in different ways. Some of us have a lot of anxiety around it. Others love it. Some of us are too focused on what we’re getting, while others are too focused on what they’re giving. As in all things, finding a balance around this time of year is worth exploring. I believe that balance is mostly found beyond the wrapping paper and boxes.
A gift doesn’t have to be a material item. It can be as simple as a gesture. A gesture of love, or affection, or good health. Good health is not a given these days, and if you find yourself in the position of having it, the upmost gratitude should be paid in recognizing what a blessing this is. While none of us can physically give good health to others, we can use our interests and our influence to inspire the people that we love in a way that feels empowering and supports health in each other. This is not about lecturing or teaching. It is simply about being a positive influence in your own bubble.
To me, this looks like a thoughtful exchange of time and energy. Whether it be making a meal for someone, taking them on a hike, playing a game, local adventures– these simple things are great ways to get out of the box (literally and figuratively) that’s surrounding us.
The health that goes beyond the physical is within our perspective. A healthy perspective can be a state of mind, but it can also come from subtle shifts in the routine of your daily life. Something as small as exploring a new part of the city you live in can be transformational and meaningful. The world is an extension of our body. In my mind, it is more important than ever to seek the beauty that surrounds you and do things that ignite those moments of gratitude.
I could give you a long list of clever wellness supplements or gadgets to help improve your health, but what about the little gifts that keep on giving and that are accessible to all? Here are some of my favorite ways to give myself, or others, experiences that are virtually free, and support and acknowledge the gift of good health.
1 - Take a walk
As adults, young adults, single, married with young children, married with teenage children, I firmly believe if people got out and walked together, they would live happier lives. I realize that many people don’t live in areas that are very walkable, but many people do and don’t take advantage of it! Make walking dates with those you love– or go solo for a change of pace.
2 - Find a sunset and appreciate it
So many of us are glued to our computers this time of day, or as parents we are caught in the shuffle between day and night. Relishing a sunset can seem kind of cliche, but it is one of the simplest ways to remind ourselves how small we are, and how unique this planet is. Take five minutes, breathe it in and tell those around you that you love them. It’s really simple, it’s free, and it certainly sets the tone for a calm and more present evening.
3 - Find a botanical garden
Many cities have botanical gardens that are undiscovered gems and are rarely utilized by the locals that live around them. When I discovered that I could take a short drive and be in spectacular gardens it was a game changer for me. While botanical gardens aren't wild nature, I feel they allow you to appreciate plants in a really personal and intimate way.
4 - Play games
I love food wine and restaurant culture as much as anyone. One of my favorite things to do has always been going out to eat. But what if this time of year when we may be spending more time with friends and family, we organized moments that are not totally focused around food on the table. This could be mixing up the evening by playing puzzles, boardgames, and things that challenge us mentally. And they are so fun to do with friends and family. There’s a reason games have existed for years and in the era of binge-watching I think we forget this also an option. It is such a great way to get off your phones and connect with others.
5 - Give back!
Research has shown that giving back is a great way to support your own mental health and helping those in need is a profound way to shift your own perspective. Grab a friend, family member, or a loved one and spend some time helping those in need. This is not only a great way to connect with the person you’re doing it with– it’s also beneficial to those who need it the most.
I’m pretty sure that most of this would’ve sounded cheesy to me about 10 years ago. But as we get older, maintaining mental, physical and emotional health becomes more important. It's so easy to get into ruts and routines that don't nurture us in a wholesome way. Health and wellness culture drives us towards purchases, but so many of the tools are right in front of us and they don’t cost a thing. Give yourself and your loved one’s the gift of good health year round.