soup in CT, 2011

With the holidays in full swing, I’ve been thinking a lot about family traditions. For instance, in Russia, New Year’s Eve is a huge holiday.

Everyone has a New Year’s tree with beautiful ornaments, and we exchange gifts at midnight on December 31st. We’ve been celebrating this way for decades — maybe even a century — and have carried these traditions over to the U.S.

Traditions are important. Tradition connects us to our family, to our faith and to ourselves.

(By the way, if anyone just started singing the song “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” let me just say that a) I understand and b) you’re awesome.)

It gives us something to look forward to. And it carries our heritage from generation to generation.

Traditions are also warm things that unite us. They make memories, and they make us happy.

I think tradition can do the same for our body image. Tradition can serve as a reminder to appreciate your body, to care for it, and hopefully these rituals will carry over to the next generation. If you have kids or young cousins, maybe they’ll pick up on these traditions, too.

Here are some ideas for various body image traditions both for yourself and your loved ones:

  • Get a manicure or pedicure or another fave spa treatment every year on Valentine’s Day or your birthday — or every few weeks, if you like.
  • Cook dinner for yourself a few nights a week and focus fully on the event. No books, no TV, no phone, no distractions.
  • Take a bath every Saturday, and apply the best scrub and lotion you’ve got. And when I say bath, I mean the works: candles, music, dim lighting and a glass of your fave drink.
  • Every week, list what you’re grateful for. I love this tip from Stephanie Sarkis’s book about writing down one thing that inspired you, one thing that surprised you, and one thing that touched you. Here’s another way to take in your days.
  • Every night, go around the dinner table, and have everyone say aloud one reason that they’re thankful for their bodies (such as it helps you breathe, run around, participate in your favorite sports, laugh, draw or hug your loved ones).
  • Several times a year, write a letter to yourself that expresses your current emotions and experiences. Write your heart out.
  • Several times a month or year, write letters of appreciation to your loved ones. It can be as simple as a few sentences telling them why they’re so awesome.
  • Create vision boards that lay out your annual goals, and get your entire family involved. (Make sure they’re authentic, though.)
  • Create body image inspiration boards.
  • During the holidays or weekends, make it a habit to enjoy the outdoors. For instance, you might take a walk or take your bike out for a spin. If you’re celebrating with others, have them join in, too. (And no technology use allowed.)

Here’s another great idea from one of my fave bloggers, Golda Poretsky. She’s created a New Year’s ritual, which she shares in this free workbook:

First, I make a gratitude list of all the things I’m grateful for that happened in 2011. It’s my way of digesting the year and remembering the good (and tough situations) that have come my way.

Next, I make desire lists of all the things I want in 2012. I break this down into specific categories that I share with you in the workbook. This is my way of getting real clarity on my true desires, so that I can enjoy the process of manifesting them.

Then, last but not least, I list my intentions for 2012. These are the things that I’m committed to doing, changing and experiencing in 2011. These are different than the desire lists, and I explain that in the workbook.

What body image traditions would you like to create?

P.S., Psychologist Elisha Goldstein, who writes the awesome Psych Central blog Mindfulness & Psychotherapy, has just released a short eBook called Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler. It offers three video-led mindfulness practices to help manage anxiety around traveling. (And it’s only 99 cents.)