Top of the Gift List: Me

5 ways to think about self-giving, plus 10 tangible green gift suggestions

You can't help others until you help yourself, and the same applies (or should) to gift giving. But self-directed gifts needn't be about greed or even self-indulgence. Below are five intentions, or novel ways to think about self-giving, plus 10 tangible gift suggestions that might help you lead a greener, more balanced, and more conscious life.

 

5 INTENTIONS

1. Give yourself permission. Allow yourself to try something new. Maybe you need permission to overcome the fear, laziness, or inertia that keeps you from making a positive change in your life.

2. Give yourself a challenge. Identify your goal and the steps needed to achieve it. Dream big!

3. Give yourself a break. Compassion starts at home. Go easy on yourself and realize that just trying is already a form of success.

4. Give yourself a hand. You can't build a house without a hammer and nails. Identify what help you might need to meet your goal, then go get it.

5. Give yourself a reward. Acknowledge what you've accomplished, even if you've only accomplished taking the first step. Congratulate yourself.

 

10 GIFTS

1. Give yourself a deeper yoga practice. Choose your path: a relaxing yoga vacation, an inspiring retreat at the renowned Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, online yoga classes or a studio close to home. Get out of your rut with an intensive workshop on say, hip-openers, or a class in an unfamiliar style of yoga. Other gift ideas include switching to an eco-friendly yoga mat and props or reading the Yoga Sutra.

2. Give yourself a massage. Often misperceived as merely an indulgence, massage has many therapeutic benefits for physical and emotional health. It may even help you reduce certain medications. You'll want to research the different forms — Swedish, for example, relaxes, while Shiatsu energizes—and then find a therapist near you. Try your health insurance provider's website or one of Dr. Andrew Weil's low-cost massage suggestions. Do an easy Ayurvedic self-massage to truly give yourself this gift.

3. Give yourself a spa day. Why wait until January 2 to detox and beautify inside and out? If you look and feel great during the holidays, you may think twice about gorging on eggnog and fruitcake. Two mindful, nontoxic options are the Ayurvedic spa therapies at The Chopra Center for Well Being and detoxifying hydrotherapy at Miraval Resort. The complementary and alternative health section of SpaFinder.com may also be helpful.

4. Give yourself an outdoor thrill. Hike in the woods, make snow angels, or toss a ball around outdoors to get your blood pumping and your spirits up this winter. For bigger outdoor thrills (with or without the chill), environmental groups can point you to first-rate ecotourism options ranging from rainforests in Belize to polar bears in the Arctic. The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Journeys, Sierra Club Outings, Natural Habitat Adventures, and National Wildlife Federation's Expeditions will help you meet and greet the planet you care so much about saving.

5. Give yourself a healthy, home-cooked meal. What could be more generous than spending an afternoon at home cooking your favorite meal, or trying out an exciting new recipe? By using all local, organic ingredients, you'll also give back to the planet and community. Just type your zip code into numerous online tools to find the freshest foods from local farmers' markets, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms, food co-ops, community gardens, grocery stores, and sustainable meat, egg, and dairy providers. For one-stop shopping, SustainableTable.org and LocalHarvest.org list many of the above all in one place.

6. Give yourself a greener garden. Not only does gardening provide you with homegrown food and pretty flowers, but it also helps connect you to the Earth, to others and to youself. Add compost to your soil to make it more fertile, then decorate the outdoor space to make it your own.

7. Give yourself a cleaner home (and a clearer mind). De-cluttering your home will help you de-clutter your mind, so that you can focus on what's important. If you're overwhelmed by the thought of doing it yourself, there's no shame in hiring a personal organizer and no shortage of them either. But if you're up for the challenge, here's an easy checklist: 1) make cleaning day a commitment-put it on your calendar; 2) as you sort through clutter, ask yourself, "Does this still serve me?" If not, get rid of it; 3) make your newly cleared surfaces spiffy with eco-friendly cleaning products.

8. Give yourself a good laugh. Practice finding joy in something every day, no matter how small. If you could use help, buy tickets to a comedy club. One scientific study found that sadness actually reduces arterial blood flow, so if not for the fun of it, do it for a healthier heart.

9. Give yourself a good night's sleep. Quality zzz's are the ultimate reward of modern life, but they can be elusive. Rodney Yee offers quick video tips on breathing, meditation, and yoga to help you clear your head before laying it on a pillow. You might also sleep better knowing you're lying on a nontoxic organic mattress or organic bedding.

10. Give yourself the gift of time. Maybe not planning a retreat, spa day, or yoga workshop would make you feel happier and more emotionally balanced. Take time to do nothing, to rejuvenate, to let go of expectations and to be with loved ones. Happy holidays!

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