It's that time of year again!
Time for rest, restoration, balance, connection and patience. Wait... WHAT? That doesn't sound like the silly season... isn't it more like the time for partying, stretching yourself too thin, avoiding certain family members and dragging your butt into and out of the shops as fast as you can?!
If you dread the thought of the busy-ness of Christmas then you're not alone.
Along with increased social committments and other obligations comes added stress and a recipe for burn out.
Here are 10 ways that you can make this period an enjoyable one and utilise the time for what YOU want!
1. Stop doing so much.
Obvious I know, but are you trying to 'get it all done' in time for the 25th of December? Things like chores, gardening, shopping, seeing friends/family/colleagues/random groups that you belong to for the annual or 'last catch up' before the year is up?
Ask yourself why are you doing these things? Can they be done next year? Which is only a couple of weeks away. It's the mind which creates a belief that it all needs to be done now before the calendar turns over. Can you simplify anything or scale it back?
When you wake up each day, only do what is absolutely necessary. Prioritise and push the non critical stuff to the bottom of the list. And use that space in your day to REST!
Yes you have permission to rest... nap... watch Netflix, a DVD or your favourite TV show. Read a book, pat your pet for two hours, lie on the grass and watch the clouds... go to the beach... etc.
You are not being lazy, you are honouring your need for rest.
2. Be kind to strangers.
This really does make a difference. Try and make your default response to others that you interact with, be kindness. If you're feeling tense when out and about then take a deep breath in, exhale and smile. Even if you feel so frustrated and want to strangle someone! Fake it til you make it!
3. Watch your thoughts.
What stories are you telling yourself about people around you? This could apply to anything. The strangers at the shops, the people that you see at social functions that you don't particularly gel with. Notice how when you are judging someone, you are actually craving something yourself? For example, if old Aunt Bertha won't stop talking to you and you reeeeeeeeeally want to get away... you're probably telling yourself that she is 'annoying, rude, selfish, inconsiderate' etc. So maybe you're feeling frustrated because you need more space? Or rest? Or connection (and you're not feeling that with the conversation with her)?
4. Honour your needs.
I have a friend who told me that one year on Christmas Day, she drove herself and her partner to three of his family functions, all at completely different ends of Perth. She was exhausted, angry, irritated and vowed never to do that again. The reason why this happened was because she had only considered her partners needs and not her own. He had a great day! He had a personal taxi and he could relax, drink and remain energised all day.
How could they both have had a great day? She could have checked in with herself prior to agreeing to any plans and asked "what am I hoping to get out of the day?" Maybe it was connection with his and her families, plus some rest and relaxation. So when the proposal came in for the three functions and for her to drive, it would have been a clean cut "no - that doesn't work for me". And then they could have strategized to see how both of their needs could be met. Perhaps they could choose one family to visit and spend the rest of the time relaxing at somewhere they both enjoy? Or attend one function from each family? Or no family functions and spread out the catch up's later in the week or month?
We don't need to put so much pressure on ourselves to see EVERYONE in such a short amount of time.
5. Speak your truth.
Woahhhhhhhhhhhh this is a BIG ONE! Are you ready to speak your truth even if others 'don't like it'? What does 'speak your truth' even mean?
Do you remember when you were a kid and if someone asked you something you'd just respond without overthinking it? And there was pure honesty and rawness?
This is what speak your truth means.
So does that mean if you think someone is "stupid and annoying" you should tell them? Probably not... that is only going to create chaos, friction and conflict.
Speaking your truth is about connecting to your heart FIRST. Honour what you are feeling and then share that verbally.
I am tired
I am bored
I am hurt
I am sad
I am angry
I am frustrated
Practice this... practice FEELING something and then VERBALLY saying what you are feeling.
I am happy!
I am so grateful!
I am surprised!
I am so full of joy right now!
I am feeling curious...
There are no rules about how you should feel. No one or no thing can minimise or disregard your feelings. So practice acknowledging a feeling through spoken word. This is way more powerful than we even realise!! As once we connect like this, the energy or tension behind the feeling will ease.
So often we have a feeling and then we go into our THOUGHTS and into the STORY about what is going on. That is normal and a part of being human. The guidance here is even if you are in thought or in a story, PAUSE it and ask yourself "what am I feeling?" and then SPEAK IT.
6. Number Six! The luckiest of numbers (that's what I just heard in my head anyway!). Make time for your loved ones.
This is all about being present when your loved one is speaking with you. Truly be there with them. Not half listening and half wondering what's for dinner tonight. Either be there with them with your full attention, or do yourselves both a favour and move on. It doesn't serve anyone staying in their company wishing you were somewhere else.
7. Meet up with old friends.
If you truly feel a heart connection with someone that you haven't seen in ages, why not make this the time to ACTUALLY see them? Rather than just saying "we should catch up sometime!" Not everyone is busy with family commitments so use the extra time off work to enjoy some meaningful connections.
8. Water your plants.
You don't have any plants? Oh you should get some! Plants, both indoors and outdoors are incredibly healing for us. Both on an air purifying level and on an energetic healing level. Plants feel and can speak to us if we only pause long enough to listen. The act of tending to a plant can be incredibly rewarding and is an excellent act of self-care... as you step into a peaceful mindfulness like practice.
9. Remember that "this too shall pass!"
What are you getting so worked up about?
The kids swing set didn't arrive in time? Relax, it's not the end of the world!
The gingerbread men you made as gifts exploded in the oven and you are in tears? Give your friends what you've made and enjoy the laughter!
Whatever plan or expectation you set that didn't quite work out... IT'S OK. Ask yourself "when I eventually die and am sitting over on the other side, am I going to look back and say 'OMG - that day, on the 16th December 2019 when my gingerbread men didn't work out, it was so traumatic!!'". I highly doubt it. So...relaaaaaaaax. I often ask myself this question when I'm getting worked up about something. Especially when you ponder the concept that this lifetime is only one of potentially thousands of lives that you've had and will continue to have... so... is this moment in time really such a big deal?
10. Be One With The Divine.
Meditate, pause, breathe, walk, rest, repeat!
Take the time to connect with YOURSELF as a daily ritual. I like to spend the first two hours of the day doing things only for myself. And the activities that I do, change depending on how I feel. Quite often it's a morning celery juice, smoothie, walk and yoga or meditation at Lake Munga (using the app Gaia.com) and some self-reflection work. Then, once I return home, I open up and allow the world in. I check my emails, texts, social media etc. The day goes on, then when it is over. I take 5-10 minutes in bed to put my hand on my heart and check in with how I'm feeling. No the phone is not in the bedroom!
I also use the shower to do these exercises.
And I understand that the morning time is hectic for busy parents, so consider what could work for you with the time that you have. It could be as simple as ensuring that your morning shower is KID FREE and take those minutes to breathe and connect to yourself. Or having your morning beverage in a peaceful place in your home. Mindfully drinking and eating your breakfast (so not checking your mobile!).
It's not about the length of time you can dedicate to the practice but the intention of putting a minute or two aside for JUST FOR YOU.
I hope these tips have helped you in some way and I wish you all the best for a beautiful, fun filled and loving holiday season!
With love and hugs,
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Renee Cusworth is a Holistic Coach & Consultant specialising in helping single people attract (and keep!) a loving partner. Based in Perth, Western Australia, she offers In Person sessions at her Mount Hawthorn clinic aswell as Online to clients around the world.