It's not exactly what you think.
We're all about a well-deserved moment of self-gifting during the holidays. But Joe Holder offers a whole new way to look at the concept. The trainer and founder of the Ocho system has built his career on helping people prioritize their physical and mental health, reach fitness goals, and become the best versions of themselves so they can in turn be of service to others. And sure, he may know the value of a chic set of organic linens, high-tech accessories, and luxe travel gear (more on that in his Holiday Haul below), but the most profound suggestion he makes is to "invest in your qualitative gifts" this year—those which will serve you for much longer than anything physical.
Ahead, Holder shares more of his reflections that may challenge the way you already think about the holidays. He offers thoughtful ways to care for yourself, care for others, and show appreciation for all your body can do. It's a gift in itself.
Photo: Jessica Foley
Three words to describe your 2021 holiday season state of mind:
"Non-consumptive, reflective, comfortable."
What is your most meaningful holiday tradition? Why is it special and how do you continue to keep it alive year after year?
"I spend time connecting with family and then I take a trip to recharge and recalibrate for the upcoming year. I started this at 26/27 to avoid burnout and I keep it up because it allows me to look back at the previous year and make decisions for the upcoming one accordingly."
What has 2021 taught you about gratitude? And how do you practice gratitude during the holiday season?
"Most of us aren't grateful and after how crazy COVID was it is easy to revert back to those non-grateful ways. I try to remind myself every day that the things I have I don't necessarily deserve, much of them come from the genetic lottery, and it should be on me to pay it forward. So, every holiday I try to do a small holiday toy drive with my best friend Olivia Perez as part of our System of Service non-profit."
Photo: Jessica Foley
As lovely as the holidays are, they can be inevitably stressful. What are some ways to prioritize physical and mental wellbeing to manage stress related to this time of year?
"Don't think it changes versus other times of the year—make sure you put in small pockets of time to take care of yourself. For most people reading this, they probably have free time and disposable funds. Just make the decision to act wisely for the personal health you've been gifted with. I will admit many of us are dealing with hardships unseen though. So take the time to take a step back during the holiday season and put in the guard rails that will work the rest of the year or at least for the next few months.
"Because of American culture, we try to squeeze in so much leisure during holidays which inevitably makes us feel even more tired when the year starts up again. It is okay to take a break, and I think for many of us taking a break without overindulging will allow us to feel better because rest can be healing."
What is a gift you can give to yourself this year (not necessarily a physical item) to foster a better relationship with your physical and mental health?
"Resolve. Confidence. Belief that you have not power over everything but instead power over small moments in your life that will make a big difference in your well-being. Invest in your qualitative gifts."
Your idea of a perfect holiday celebration:
"Just time with family and friends enjoying each other's company in a warm destination. No frills here, just keep it simple over good food."
Your holiday 2021 theme music:
"Nat King Cole albums."
Joe's Holiday Haul:
Top photo: Cassidy Araiza