25 Nov Ten tips to make your holidays less fraught and more festive
The holiday season doesn’t always have to be stressful. Freya Higgins-Desbiolles suggests ways you can enjoy it a bit more.
Holidays are a time of high stress. Despite the delight of not having to work for several days or even weeks, holidays come with pressures.
These can include catching up with family where possible, giving gifts, consuming to keep the economy buoyant, and having enough fun to see us through to the next holiday.
Here are ten tips for enjoying things that little bit more without all the stress and after-effects.
1. Don’t go into debt
Each Christmas season, the media will, like clockwork, report on Christmas spending.
This is the time of year when much of the retail sector really depends on consumers to spend big after this difficult year. We often are made to feel like we aren’t doing our bit for the economy if we aren’t giving our credit cards a bootcamp-grade workout. But you don’t need to do it.
Gifts need to be thoughtful – not expensive. Why not draw on any talents to make a homemade gift or a promise of services (like babysitting or lawnmowing), or perhaps give a personally designed IOU card for a gift you can purchase when the Christmas sales are on?
Or why not go green and buy quality secondhand products?
2. Holiday at Home
One way to avoid debt is to not undertake an expensive holiday during this higher-priced, peak tourism season.
Instead, explore your own backyard with a renewed perspective. Remember, if your borders are open plan a trip to a part of Australia you haven’t seen before.You can pay serious money to visit our beautiful beaches, national parks and recreational playgrounds. So look for alternative accommodation such as camping and caravan areas; B&B’s even house swaps with friends in other states.
If you can’t avoid a nagging feeling that your neighbour holidaying in a beach-side resort has outdone you, try thinking again. Our local world-class festivals, galleries, museums and events are coming back now after COVID and need your support so try something new!
3. Back to nature
Another upside to holidaying at home: if your borders are open then these breaks are the rare chance we all have to have some serious downtime.
There are plenty of things you can enjoy with your family and friends much closer to home – nature, for example.
One trending example you might check out is Shinrin yoku ‘forest bathing’.
First developed in Japan, ground zero of harried workforces, forest bathing is a response to the stress of overwork. This practice involves taking walks in the forest for a meditative experience in nature. Tours are now organised to foster ‘forest bathing’.
4. Simple things
This holiday season, why not engage your playful creativity to invent ideas for simple fun and joy?
Let’s celebrate the fact we are in the sun in the southern hemisphere and forget the carols that dream “of a white Christmas”. Picnics packed with our extraordinary foods and wines in the hidden beauty spots known only to locals remind us of why our backyards are stellar in Australia.
What about playtime? Kids remind us that fun can be had with things at hand – a frisbee, a puppy, or their peers.
5. Moderation in pleasures
This is the hard one at this time of year.
For many Australians, the festive season is about enjoying good food and drink in the company of loved ones. But don’t let your spirit of the season be undone by the “spirits” of the season.
Hangovers and ‘food babies’ are not a good look – so why don’t we just avoid them this year?
6. Think of others and give back
The end of the year provides us with a chance to understand the blessings we have enjoyed in this difficult year.
One way to feel really good this holiday season is to take a little time to give back. This may be as simple as placing an extra present under a giving tree (such as K-Mart’s), purchasing Oxfam’s “unwrapped” gift cards, or other similar charity schemes, or giving your time to organisations who help the less fortunate during the holidays.
7. Find some reflective time
The end of the year also offers time to think about the year that was and set some intentions for the year to come. While the joy of being together is a special feature of this time of COVID, also try to create some reflective time for yourself too.
8. Resolutions for new beginnings
This reflective time can give us an opportunity to take stock of our lives and use the traditions of the New Year to make 2021 better and more balanced.
We joke about resolutions, their making and their breaking, but these quaint traditions have some folk wisdom behind them.
Each new year offers new opportunities to transform some things we would like to change. COVID-19 has given us much to think about.
9. Travel with pets
When we do go on holidays, we have found in the past that our best friends have sometimes been less than welcome. I speak of our dogs and cats.
With some 24 million pets, Australians have one of the highest household rates of pet ownership in the world. Today, more and more accommodation and transport providers are understanding that many of us want to holiday with our pets. L
10. Digital detox
The impact of technology, social media and instant communications results in some workers finding work creeping into their after hours’ lives. This holiday, what about trying a digital detox and get off the mobile, the email and Facebook for a specified period of time?
In fact, digital detox holidays are a “thing” now. That many of our iconic national parks don’t have reception is a bonus.
Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management, University of South Australia