The holidays are a time of busyness. With all of the Christmas parties, holiday shopping, tree trimming, and present wrapping, it seems like there's less time to actually BE with the people you love. No, I don't just mean physically spending time with your tribe, but truly seeing, hearing, emotional, intellectual connection. Very different. We can physically be surrounded by others and feel alone. Holidays mean extra stress for most people, extra stress means a greater need for true connection because connection is proven to decrease cortisol (the stress hormone). I've been extra busy with the holiday festivities on top of my yoga teacher training, and connecting with my husband is always my number one priority. This got me thinking how important it is to continually connect with the people we love be it friends, family, or your significant other. It's natural for connection to ebb and flow, to go through times where you feel totally in sync, and then times when you feel somewhat disconnected. Regardless of where you're at, it's crucial to consistently create opportunities for connection, for the coming together, for the communication of how much that person means to you. Below are some activities which promote connection with the people you love:
- Get out in nature. Nature just makes me feel connected to something greater than myself period. The best part about nature is there are no electronic, capitalist distractions. The ego can relax when surrounded by nature. The brain does good things when in nature, so what better environment to connect with someone you love, than the great outdoors.
- Take an 'unplugged evening'. We lost power last year for an evening and it was glorious. My husband and I ate dinner by candlelight, the house was incredibly serene without the humm of electronics, and we went to bed early without television and computer screens to keep us occupied. No electronics = less distractions = more opportunity for connection.
- Play a board game. Games are such a classic activity to do with one another. They're fun, you sit around a table with the people you love, and talking about things that truly matter somehow seem safer when in the context of a shared activity.
- Puzzles. Once again, a common activity. Puzzles require proximity to one another and promote opportunities for good conversations. They are also cognitively stimulating while being romantically simple. Puzzles are great to do with family members, significant others, and friends.
- Send a card or letter. It's always a good idea to tell people how much they mean to you. Say it the old fashioned way with a hand written card or letter.
- Work on a project. Build that farm table, paint that shelving unit, or plant a garden. Working on a common project with one another unites and connects, while also providing opportunity for good convo and laughs.
- Reading together. My husband and I used to take turns reading to one another out loud from books we were both interested in reading. What was so nice about this, was that we were able to experience the book together. We could talk about it with one another afterwards, or in between chapters. It was also time we spent without distractions, in close proximity to one another.
- Netflix and Chill. If with a significant other, cuddling must be present for this to count. If with a friend, snacks, pjs and/or cozy blankets are non-negotiable.
- Go for a hike. Walking decreases cortisol and I swear I've had the best conversations of my life on walks. There's something less intimidating about being next to one another en route than sitting across from one another. It feels safer to talk about serious things when you don't have the other person's eyes on you, when you are moving your body. Walking/hiking makes for a greater opportunity to open up, talk about real things, talk about feelings, fears.
- Try out a new recipe. Baking and/or cooking is a shared experience in which you both have a common goal. You must work together, follow directions, work as a team.
- Slow dancing in the living room. Clearly this one is meant for romantic relationships only. Remember the thrill of slow dancing with your crush at a school dance. Why don't we do it more often? Find a song that gives you all the feels, light some candles, and slow dance until you feel butterflies like you did in middle-school.
- Happy Hour. No booze does not have to be involved. In fact, I recommend a 2 drink maximum if it is. True connection ceases the moment one person becomes intoxicated. The concept of happy hour was built around social connection as you sip and munch rather than sit down for a full-on intense meal. Green juice, coffee, tea, and smoothie dates all count!
- Vision Boards. Creating a vision board, forces each person to think about their hopes for the future. When you create a vision board with someone else, you inevitably begin to share your hopes and dreams with the other person. This makes for good conversation and good connection.
- Go out for a picnic. Picnics involve sitting, outside, in nature (or a park) with minimal distractions. Picnics were made for hanging out. I've had some amazing times with friends on top of blankets, sitting around pizza boxes, or sandwiches, or bottles of wine.
- Try something new. I just tried a barre class for the first time with a friend. It was killer, but as we made eye contact in shared agony, talked about our experience afterwards, it was definitely a bonding experience. Trying something new forces your brain to be present as it takes in the experience stimuli for the first time and presence is necessary for connection.
With all of the social media, internet, and emphasis placed on the superficial, we have been devolving ourselves away from true connection. Trust me, when you're the most stressed and/or overwhelmed, that's when you need connection the most. Make a point to connect with those you love on a regular basis and if you find yourself stumped for ideas, I hope this list is helpful. Happy Holidays!