If you find the holiday season a little over-the-top at times, check out my own tried and true tricks with a twist of nature. I call them instant peace makers.
- Just Breathe. This is something you can do anytime. No fancy techniques. No right or wrong way to do it. Give yourself five minutes of simple, mindful breathing. It instantly reduces anxiety and boosts your immune system. Of course, if you can do this outside, you'll feel your inner glow even sooner.
- Nature yourself bright. Comfort yourself with a small purchase that gives big rewards day after day. Here are some ideas with a little nature thrown in...A warm scarf hanging near your door beckoning you outside for a mind-clearing walk. A pretty flowered cup on your counter calling for you to slow-down for a few minutes with a cup of herb tea. A candle with a botanical design and scent begging to be lit every night, reminding you of your own shining light. A small picture of a red bird posted on your fridge that brings you good luck every time you look at it.
- Bring nature inside. If you are looking for inexpensive, simple and lovely holiday decor, go nature. Start with a walk around your yard. You will be amazed at what you will find to spark your creativity and how easy it all comes together. Gather green sprigs and boughs of different shades and textures to create a festive display along your hearth or hutch, in a big vase or the bottom of a hurricane candle. Twist fairy lights around a bundle of bare branches for an artsy look. Walk through your neighborhood or local park to gather a basket of pine cones and seed pods--it's fun and you will feel a lovely connection with the earth. If you happen to be near a nursery, stop by to check out its wonderful variety of inexpensive greens. You'll find ivy topiaries in the shapes of stars, balls and cones and buckets filled with bright red sprigs of winter berry, dipped holly branches, boughs of incense cedar and princess pine, and giant sugar cones.
- Feed the birds. I love birds and this morning I counted more than 30 at our feeder. Kids love them, too! Watch a child's face light up when she spies a flock of tiny bushtit birds on a block of suet hanging in your backyard. These adorable birds travel in flocks, covering suet in about two seconds, becoming one big pile of feathers. The antics of pine siskins and chickadees are just as entertaining. No need for a feeder this time of year. At local bird stores, you can find many types of seed cakes shaped for the holidays as snowmen, wreaths and garlands to hang on a fence, deck rail or from your roof. The kids will think you are brilliant and you will know you are!
- Stop to smell the rosemary. I've had a love affair with rosemary since I planted my now 15-year-old gangly bush. Snipped sprigs have the most wonderful scent, always giving me an instant lift. You can find rosemary topiaries in most nurseries this time of year. (Trader Joes, too.) Or, sprigs from a grocery store will last a long time when placed in water. Thyme, sage and mint also add great scents to your holiday decor.
- Visit a nature conservatory. These serene greenhouses often house a variety of jungle plants making it a great warm and tropical refuge on a cold winter day. The lush vegetation is beautiful and soothing. Water features, cobbled paths and benches for reading or meditating add to the charm. A wonderful place to recover from your shopping extravaganza.
- Look at the night sky. End your day by gazing at the celestial night sky. Thank your lucky stars for all that you have and feel an awesome connection to the universe that warms your heart.
How about you? What do you do to make your holiday season special? Do you take any steps to keep it as stress-free as possible?
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