How to Slow Down this Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us and Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday coming up quickly, it can be a hectic time for many. While Black Friday isn't for everyone, we can all get wrapped up in the sale craziness and lose focus about what really matters this week and into the December month - being thankful for what we have, being with friends and family and finding time to slow down to reflect on the year. This is what truly sustains us for the long run!

We all like a good sale but I believe we can admit that the Black Friday shopping industry has gotten excessive with opening stores on Thanksgiving day or crowds of people fighting over gifts. In the past several years, REI has promoted the Opt Outside movement to encourage others to get outdoors rather than shopping. Many other brands have gotten behind this mantra and you can take easy ways to do this too!

Ways to Slow Down this Black Friday

1. Go for a walk, hike or run
An incredibly easy way to get outside and be with your loved ones. Take a quick walk around the neighborhood or go for a hike in the mountains, near a river or anywhere you have some outdoor space! A great way to be active, slow down and if you NEED to get out for sales, you can go after.

2. Play a board game
One of my favorite pass times over the holiday season is to sit down a play a board game with family and friends. This is a time to have some friendly competition, get some quality time together and do something fun and memorable! 

3. Cook and bake!
Whether for yourself or for others, this is an easy and doable activity to create a meal together or a way to bless others.

4. Make something
Another easy way to slow down is taking the time to make something that you love. This could be a drawing, painting, wood working. House projects, gardening, graphics design, photography, sewing - anything that uses your hands! This could be a fun way to use your brain a bit differently than you may during the work week. And it could even end up being a gift you give to a loved one this year!

5. Volunteer
Another way to be with loved ones and serve your community this holiday season is to volunteer with local organizations or events. It could be volunteering for a fun run this Thanksgiving, toy lifts for families in need, or serving at a food bank.

Slowing down is important this holiday season because we are told we always need more things. Focusing on different aspects of this season or 'Opting Outside' is an action that we can easily do to avoid overconsumption. And a bonus? We'll be getting in the true Thanksgiving and holiday spirit - rooted in being thankful for what we already have, paying attention to the loved ones around us and maybe even putting down our phones for a little while. 

Brands doing their part this holiday season

REI Opt Outside
Beginning a few years ago, REI has been a leader in promoting getting outdoors during the holiday season by closing their stores on Black Friday. This shows first hand, the importance in the industry to slow down and cherish the places we live with the people we love.

Always creating initiatives to better the environment and slowing our purchases (remember the 'Don't Buy This Jacket' campaign?), Patagonia focuses on bettering the world we live in. This year's Black Friday, they are donating 100% of sales to grassroot organizations they work with. So if you DO have to shop this week, shop here!

United By Blue
This year, the brand is hosting a Blue Friday, that is encouraging people around the country to get outside and serve your community. With events in different cities, the brand will be picking up trash, cleaning parks and bettering our environments. Interested? Check out their site to find one in your city.

Richmond photography by Lexi Wilson of  Alexa Ann Photo.