1. Say yes to things that make your heart sing. Be a scrooge about the rest! Revel in the looks of dismay and astonishment that follow in the wake of your “No”s and “Not this year”. Say this with me… “Pushover, be gone!”
TRY: prioritizing, not automatically putting everyone’s needs before your own, having the courage to decide what’s important to you, perhaps practicing saying no to a sparkly, nice, rainbow-and-unicorns kind of person first.
2. Get MORE sleep, not less. At holiday time? I know – you think I’m a crazy person. But hear me out. You’ll actually get more done when you’re rested. You’ll forget less, and get things done right the first time. You’ll be more pleasant to be around, so run less risk of lumps of coal, barf-y re-gifts, and one-way tickets as presents this year. You’ll be more creative. You’ll be able to prioritize, and you’ll have the energy to say no when you need to (see #1). You’ll be making crisp, lovely holiday memories instead of slogging along in a tired, grumpy fog.
TRY: cutting back on TV and internet before bed, set an alarm for 30 min before you want to go to bed so you can finish tasks AND meet your bedtime deadline, practice taking quick cat-naps during the day, put major to-do items in your calendar over a several week period so you’re not leaving everything till the end, ask others for help.
3. Listen to your body and stop ignoring it! Small concessions can pay big dividends. Is your back aching? Take 5 minutes and stretch. And, check in with it again an hour or two later. Have you skipped lunch while rushing about? Grab a piece of fruit or cereal or make yourself a sandwich. This minute! Getting a headache? When’s the last time you drank some water? Pour yourself a glass and for extra credit take a couple of slow, relaxing breaths between sips. Let’s face it – if your body were a plant, it would be shriveled and brown and disintegrating into little pieces on your windowsill by now.
TRY: doing whatever it takes to check in with your body several times daily: post-it notes, phone or computer reminders, water bottles or stretching mats/bands left in plain sight etc. Remember to start each day with fresh intentions and a plan even if you got busy and totally forgot to do it the day before. The most intransigent of you may actually want to buy a plant so you can remember to do something for yourself each time you water it. Please don’t let the plant die.
4. Spend a couple of minutes daily feeling appreciation and gratitude this holiday season. This new area in health and medicine is one we should be decking the halls with holly about! The science is IN – feeling appreciation and gratitude on a regular basis makes us healthier, happier folk. And, what if this holiday is triggering a personal feeling of not being appreciated? Maybe you can’t get your spouse or sibling or parent to treat you differently this holiday, but you can treat yourself to some kudos and appreciation in their stead.
TRY: pairing your new appreciation session with something you already do so you won’t forget it: 3 minutes just before a meal or while you’re brushing your teeth, for example. Focus on your heart, and imagine that for a few minutes you’re breathing directly into it. Imagine the thing you’re appreciating (your pet, loved one, awesome thing that happened to you, beloved hobby or work you adore, place in the world that transports you to bliss), and don’t skimp on the details – you don’t want to think appreciation, you want to feel it. You may notice a sensation of warmth and space in your chest. For those of us looking to ourselves for a dose of self-appreciation, listing all the things we appreciate about ourselves (mentally or on paper) can be a life-saver. If the previous sentence induced a gag-reflex, you can test the waters by listing all the things you don’t absolutely hate about yourself, and move towards self-appreciation in mini-stages. This is about your health, after all.
5. Move that body! Exercise improves memory- key when you’re among a host of folk you see rarely, yet are expected to know and name, possibly after several drinks. Imagine what you could do with extra energy at this time of year – perhaps you’d make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve after all! But seriously – you’ll feel better, your mood may brighten, and you’ll have more energy for all the special events and travel of the holiday season. Don’t wait for January to make some resolution you won’t keep!
TRY: It all depends on where you’re at! Listening to your body (#3) is a good start. Do you need to address pain or muscle tightness first? What’s the kindest way to introduce your body to activity again (if it has been a while)? Is it time for an extra recovery day or a massage? Bringing body awareness to all activity and a stubborn refusal to quit are key! What will make you unstoppable?
So many errands…. extended family closing in fast… food and shopping temptations galore… feeling unappreciated– who wouldn’t be exhausted and cranky? The person who is sleeping enough, listening to his/her body, employing strategic NOs, practicing a few minutes of daily appreciation, and intelligently moving – that’s who!
I wish with all my heart that you choose to be among these merry folk for this holiday season!