Gifts to yourself

Since it’s holiday season, rather than suggest gifts for the qualitative researchers in your life, here are 10 ideas for a gift for yourself (and of course, involving your friends and family will make things all the more fun)…

  1. Walk in the forest

A Japanese term, “shinrin-yoku,” which means “forest-bathing” has recently found its way into the popular press. This terms draws attention to the idea that walking in a forest has numerous health benefits. And if you need further encouragement to wander in a forest, and breathe, touch, and listen, check out the Shinrin yoku website.

  1. Plant a tree

Global Forest Watch estimates that from 2001 to 2017, there was a total of 337 million hectares of tree cover lost globally (accessed November 20, 2018). This is equivalent to an 8.4% decrease since 2000. Since trees are essential to life on earth, planting a tree helps both you and the planet (although sadly it won’t do much to resolve problems associated with tree loss). And if you don’t have a space to plant a tree, check out these books on trees:

Haskell, D. G. (2017). The song of trees: Stories from nature’s great connectors. New York: Penguin Books.

Suzuki, D., & Grady, W. (2018). Tree: A life story (Revised ed.). Vancouver, Berkeley: Greystone Books.

  1. Buy a newspaper subscription

We’ve heard a lot about the free press over the past year. Trevor Timm is a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press foundation. For a free press to flourish, journalists need to be paid – by purchasing a newspaper subscription, you can do your bit to support your local journalists and a free press.

  1. Write a letter

In the old days (prior to the internet!), people used to write letters to one another in order to keep in touch. Rather than rely on a dashed off email or text, consider taking out a pen (or if your penmanship is sorely lacking like mine, perhaps typing might be a better idea) and paper, and writing a letter to a distant friend or family member. Be sure to craft your letter to the recipient. No: form letters copied and mailed out to your friends and relatives don’t count. Add some personal touches for just this person.
A drawing, recent photo, a pressed leaf, a newspaper article, a recipe… what would you share? Put your letter in an envelope, add a stamp. Yes, this may involve a trip to the post office… then mail. Your recipient will be delighted.

  1. Take time to listen to an elder

The oldest members of our communities frequently have time on their hands if they are physically not able to take on the projects that they engaged a decade or two ago. Whether you talk to an elder via a video conference tool, or face-to-face, be sure to give them your full attention. This means switching off your cell phone and making uninterrupted time for this person. Ask them questions about their experiences. Generate life stories. Be prepared to learn. Be surprised.

  1. Visit an independent bookstore

If you are a book lover, you may already be convinced of the importance of independent book stores. Yes, you can order your books online and they will be delivered straight to your home – however, the pleasure of independent book stores is exploring the displays to see the books that will not ever show up on your screen because of the way search algorithms work. Surprise yourself by picking up something different.

  1. Read a book for pleasure

Those of us who work in academic settings do lots of reading for work. Over the holiday season, take some rest time with a novel. Here are some I’ve enjoyed over the past year:

  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer
  • The Overstory by Richards Powers
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  1. Take a nap

James Maas is a social psychologist who coined the term “power nap.” He is a leading authority on sleep who has written numerous books on sleep. Taking a nap (somewhere between 15-90 minutes) is good for you. Try it.

  1. Cook something from scratch

Lately, I’ve been eating out more than usual, which may also happen to you when you get too busy. That’s why it’s so much fun to explore a new recipe, and cook something from scratch. Whether it’s a casserole, cake, or cookie, locate some fresh ingredients, sauté, sift, or stir and then savor with family and friends.

  1. Take a quiz 

There’s lots of quizzes out there which are a fun way to test your knowledge of all manner of topics. Recently, I tried out the Climate Change Quiz in a blogpost written by Bill Gates .  I did not fare well… which was an excellent reminder of all that I still have to learn…

Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season, and I’ll be back to the blog in 2019. Happy New Year!

Kathy Roulston 


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