It’s December and we’re heading toward one of the most challenging times of the year: Christmas holidays. We’ve taken the lowest point of the four seasons, when we are meant to be hibernating, internal and quiet in order to rejuvenate for spring and made it into a marathon of activity.
I have seen months of healing progress go up in smoke, mine included, in the few weeks before and after Christmas and have thought long and hard about how to deal with this drain on our collective energies. Even people who love this holiday end up depleted in January!
How do we keep our balance with pressures around weather, family, food, time and money?
1. Plan ahead for some down time. Strategize for how little we can do. Holiday expectations in our culture are TOTALLY UNREALISTIC. Break out of the box and bring our families with us. Expose the myth of being able to see all of our relatives, give everyone cards or gifts, stay up late, drink alcohol and eat rich food for weeks in a row, go to a ridiculous number of social gatherings and remain cheerful and sane.
2. Take a complete break occasionally. See family in the summer when the energy is higher and it’s not snowing.
3. Sleep a lot. Refuse to shop, get a tree or bake unless it nourishes us and involves healthy ingredients. No one will notice, everyone else is on a Christmas adrenaline rush.
4. Alternatively, plan physical activities outside in the snow that are gentle. Refrain from pursuing sports which are draining at this time of year; it’s a season to slow down. If we go on a ski holiday, let’s ski for half of the day and rest for the other half.
5. Singing Christmas music is good for our soul.
6. So is setting aside time for meditation, prayer and spiritual gatherings.
7. If we have small children, let’s do the minimum…creatively. Let’s develop new family rituals that are slow and healing for us. The little ones will benefit most.
8. Be honest with ourselves about how we are feeling. It’s when we pretend to be jolly and we’re really exhausted that we override our immunity. This might be the most important piece.
9. About charity: it starts at home and then we can give it out. Christmas time shows us how balanced we have been the rest of the year by how much we have left to give.
10. Travel. The only way to have this be successful is to come back in April! Going away for a week is just a tease and requires about 2-3 weeks recovery time.
11. Vow off sugar and wheat and whatever else aggravates us. Start in October for best results. This is easier if we provide a lot of healthy protein snacks to stem the cravings. Best combined with number three as it’s almost impossible to fight cravings when we’re tired…
Christmas has the silver lining of reflecting the state of our balance, awareness and kindness toward ourselves in the previous year and motivating us to have a better year moving forward. All the best to all of us in creating some rest, relaxation and rejuvenation in our holidays!
Katherine Willow N.D.