With the holiday season of this unforgettable year finally upon us, a time that is normally highly social, celebratory, and steeped in tradition and shopping ’til we drop, ‘normal life’ continues to be a moving target as we round out the year.
Despite the challenges, there is a sense that we, as a collective, have become more nimble mentally while we carve out this new path in front of us and reinvent new ways of doing things and being in the world.
And while this may feel restrictive and anxiety-producing at times, we are also being given an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine a future that supports mind.body health and wellbeing for all, now that a spotlight has been shown on our vulnerabilities. There is so much possibility in new beginnings, much of which has yet to be realized this year, but the groundwork has been laid.
With this new beginning, we are being invited to not only reimagine our holidays, our traditions, and our priorities, but we have also been freed from an excess of obligations and demands on our time, clearing our calendars for more mindful and intentional doing (and non-doing).
I propose to use this time to take an honest inventory of the things we will and won’t miss about holidays past, let go of anything that was not serving us, and amplify everything we want more of this December and beyond, to which I humbly offer you 3 simple steps to reWild Your Holidays this year.
reWilding is, at its essence, a philosophy and an intentional choice to honor the wisdom of nature in all aspects of life to restore our connection to an ancient intelligence. Slowing down and traveling inward from time to time allows us access to our own innate intelligence, where our intuition guides us and where our truest desires live.
May the ideas that follow be useful and inspire your own reimagining . . .
Step 1: Slowing Down
Monday, December 21st marks the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere. As we approach this seasonal milestone, we can look to nature for a reminder of our own seasonal shifts and changes and accept the invitation to be slow and more still in the coming weeks.
With this invitation, we are also being asked to take a stand against living our lives in the never-ending sunshine of chronic summer: the health-eroding cultural norm of 24-7 consumption, innovation, production, scrolling, selling, growing, and achievement . . . in exchange for the retreat that winter naturally brings, calling for more solitude, rest, reflection, replenishment, connection, and savoring (without the guilt).
Sounds inviting, yes?
Everything in nature instinctively obeys the changing of seasons, the monthly cycles of the moon, and the daily rhythm of the sunrise and sunset, except humans. We, as a collective, have spent the last few thousand years methodically insulating ourselves from the most vital aspect of wellbeing, our natural ebb and flow of growing and retreating, of doing and non-doing that preserves our vital life force. This is a legacy worth contemplating and confronting in these historic times, and why reWilding is a central theme of the Wild at Heart method.
Some resources to explore for slowing down:
Book Recommendation: The co-creator of the Whole30 program has written a fantastic resource for exploring how the concept of ‘chronic summer’ may be impacting your health and wellbeing and what you can do about it: The 4 Season Solution: A Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives
Embrace Koselig! You are going to love this Norwegian tradition of cultivating ‘coziness’, intentional connection, and time spent with nature. Read this lovely article to learn more.
Plan a reWilding Retreat on or near the Winter Solstice: plan a day filled with nature and every tech-free thing you love and then practice your savoring skills to get the most out of every minute. Subscribe to download the reWilding Retreat Guide.
Step 2: Reimagine
I offer this short visualization to take you on a journey back through holidays past to see what comes up about what you truly love about this season, what you want more of, and what you may be ready to let go of. Settle into a quiet space, free from distractions, and click this link to listen here.
Step 3: Mindfulness, Minimalism, & Self Care
Practice Seasonal Minimalism
Instead of giving things this year, try giving experiences to enjoy with loved ones this winter (e.g., virtual art classes, learning a new language, taking a trip to camp or hike in nature). Volunteer or give to charity, give written letters of gratitude, give something alive or consumable that supports wellbeing (pets, house plants, landscape plants/trees, 2021 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships, fruit-of-the-month clubs).
Or . . . simply give more of your attention. Your time, your eye contact, and your listening are the highest forms of love currency you have to offer the world. Take a break from social media this month to spend more face to face time, make your kitchen & dining table a tech-free zone to encourage interaction, get the kids (young and old) involved in a project around the house together, make a snow fort or go sledding as a family - even if your family is all adults, give a special book to everyone on your list to start a virtual book club in the new year together - anything that fosters more connection and less consumption will do.
Sacred Gift Giveaway
A more personal, intentional, and non-commerce alternative to gift-giving this season. (For those honoring the safety of social distancing, earmark the group giveaway for future gatherings when it is safe to do so).
The two most important elements of a sacred gift giveaway are:
Choose to giveaway something you have handmade or already own, that you still find useful and/or love, and that you might feel some sadness to let it go or feel it might be time to let go of the identity or memory attached to the item.
The primary focus is placed on the act of giving (letting go & generosity), receiving (allowing), connection, and gratitude, and not as much on the gifts themselves.
Choose someone in your life to share this idea with and agree to exchange sacred gifts this year.
You can choose to wrap your gifts (or not).
When the gifts are exchanged, the giver expresses the story behind the item, how they came to acquire it, what meaning it held in their life, and/or why they are choosing to give it away specifically to the receiver. The receiver is then invited to express anything they experience hearing the origin story and any thoughts, feelings, or meaning that comes up for them in receiving the gift.
For Groups (similar in some ways to a White Elephant Gift Exchange)
Upon arrival, place all giveaway gifts on a table or the floor together, hidden or out of view to the guests
Write enough numbers on slips of paper to account for all guests.
When you’re ready to begin, ask guests to be seated in a circle if possible.
Offer a prayer, a poem, a ritual, light a candle, lead a short guided meditation, etc. to settle the energy and prepare hearts and minds for the gift giving.
Each guest draws a number. The person with #1 chooses first the first gift from the table and then shares with the group why they chose it, what drew them to the gift, and any meaning they associate with it.
Then the guest who brought that item reveals themselves and the story of how they acquired the gift and any meaning it holds in their lives so there is an exchange of both storytelling and connection through this sacred gift.
Guest who is #2 then chooses the gift already previously chosen or chooses a new one from the gift table. The sharing exchange continues like this until the last gift is chosen.
Close the giveaway by asking if anyone has anything they would like to share about the impact of the giveaway and/or close with another poem, prayer, or ritual of your choosing.
‘Home(made) for the Holidays’
If there ever was a year to dust off your creative ambitions & hobbies, this one is it! Set aside time in your calendar to unplug from distractions, surround yourself with your art & hobby supplies, listen to a holiday playlist, and make something special for your friends & family with your own two hands.
No judgement for how it turns out! Happy mistakes are always part of the process. Draw, paint, record a song, bake something, make your grandmothers world famous jam, create a personal ornament for the tree, fashion jewelry out of crystals or leather, build something out of wood, repurpose old sweaters into mittens, you get the idea! Working with natural materials or found objects in nature vs. man-made plastics and or synthetics can add another layer of magic to whole project.
This act of channeling your creative energy and manifesting it into something physical is both a gift to the maker and the receiver! Especially during times of high stress and overwhelm, a creative outlet can be very soothing medicine. For those of you who have ever been the receiver of a handmade gift, you also know the extra special joy they bring and the energetic quality they hold from the time, love, and attention that was poured into them.
Add a handmade note or wrap your gifts in recycled paper with nature totems added for bows for extra credit! :)
*Alternatively, shop locally or online for handmade goods by other artisans to support small businesses and sustainably sourced gifts: Etsy, Ten Thousand Villages, Uncommon Goods are a good place to start hunting.
Top 3 Self-Care Tips to Stay Well Through the Holidays
The year end holiday season also ushers in cold and flu season for many households and this year we have a novel virus thrown into the mix. Beyond social distancing, mask wearing, and washing your hands, these 3 simple practices can help to keep you and your family well.
Mindful Sleep: Get 8 hours of restful sleep each night by establishing a bedtime routine that honors the wisdom of nature. Learn more here: reWild Your Circadian Rhythm for More Restful Sleep
Mindful Meals: Offset holiday sugar binges with extra phytonutrients! Learn why phytonutrients are so important and how to eat plant-based rainbows every day.
Mindful Movement: Schedule 120 minutes a week in nature. The minimum required for maximum wellbeing - see this study for more details. If you live near an evergreen forest, you will also benefit from the volatile essential oils released into the air that have immune-boosting properties!
The Wild at Heart Method is uniquely designed to help you transition into a lifestyle that awakens your inner wild and supports your wellbeing. A lifestyle reset can be simple, sustainable, and fun when you (re)align yourself with nature.
Subscribe for Mind.Body.Home reWilding inspiration and download the reWilding Retreat Guide: a nature-infused, self-guided retreat to explore on your own or with family and friends designed to help you de-stress, disconnect from technology, soulfully connect with loved ones & nature, nourish your mind.body with healthy whole food, and provide the mental space for mindfulness.
I look forward to supporting you with the right program, service, or referral on your healing journey. Let's walk together for awhile...
We'll stop and smell the wildflowers. Smile a lot. And wander down the road less-traveled.
Be Well and I'll See You in the Wild,
Angela Juhl, MS, CHWC, CYT
Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine
Wellcoaches™ Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Wild Woman Project Circle Leader
Certified Yoga Teacher
Wild at Heart was founded on the mission: to take a stand against unsustainable cultural norms by empowering YOU to realign your lifestyle & mindset with the wisdom of nature for mind.body.heart & soul healing and rekindling a soulful relationship to the natural world...for yourself, your loved ones, our communities, and our beautiful planet.