The holidays. Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year's, December is packed with plenty of parties, tons of delicious eats and a to-do list that never seems to end.
Unless, that is, you decide to see the holidays through a different light: as a time to embrace rest. It sounds paradoxical, but it's possible...and this gluten free (recently graduated) college celiac is doing her best to make it a reality.
What does embracing mindful rest and relaxation during the holidays really mean?
...focusing less on gifts and more on gratitude. This year has been packed (present pun intended) with huge changes for my family. My dad retired from the Marine Corps after 26 years; my family moved from California to Colorado: I graduated college! The list just goes on and on.
So, this year, we're downsizing the presents under the tree. And I like it. There's less stress about finding the "perfect" gift or wondering if you've spent "enough" on your loved ones. There's more reflection on how lucky I am - to have a home, a loving family, a job and so much more!
...ridding myself of expectations that I need to get something "done" every day. For the last four months, I've been working nonstop. If I wasn't in class, I was doing grad school apps, working with Entity Magazine, working on the blog or spending time with friends. If you think back to your year, you can probably relate to the busyness.
I'm spending the last weeks of 2016 differently, though. Instead of productivity, I'm praising living in the present. It's OK to sleep in and get nothing done besides curling up with a good book. It's OK to not be "living it up" with holiday parties and winter adventures like everyone else seems to be on social media. It's OK to be tired...and to give your body to "nothingness" it needs.
...allowing myself to reflect and experience any of the (good or bad) emotions that emerge. Have you ever felt so busy that you couldn't even find the time to think about anything but Tasks A to Z? As wonderful as spending time with friends and family during the holidays can be, make sure you set some time aside for just Me, Myself and I.
2017 is barreling closer, whether you're excited for the new year or desperately holding onto the past. And before you can move on to the next adventures, it's important to recognize how you got there in the first place. Last week, it finally hit me: college - and living next door to my friends, having a set schedule, thriving in an academic "bubble" - was over. And I cried.
You may extra pressure to be jolly 24/7 during the holidays, but emotions don't follow a set schedule. Give yourself permission to just feel whatever you need to. That's one holiday gift that everyone deserves to receive.
...listening to your body instead of constantly questioning what you need or why you need it. If celiac has taught me anything, it's that the body has an agenda - and a language - all its own. After months of waking up at 7:30 like a rooster on the clock, I'm sleeping until 9 or later. I'm craving sweets and big night snacks, even if I'm not as hungry as usual. I'm a little bit "off" - whether I have finals week burnout, jet lag, Colorado elevation, fibromyalgia or celiac to blame.
Sound familiar? Maybe you don't want to go to the holiday party you attend every year, or you don't feel like working out as hard as you usually do...even though you "should" with all of the holiday treats coming your way. Spend less time analyzing, diagnosing or trying to "fix" yourself - and more time doing exactly what you truly want. After all, the holidays only come around once a year. If you can't do what your body is craving during the "happiest time of the year," when can you?
...remembering what the holidays should really be about. Family. Friends. And, most importantly, love - but not just for strangers at the grocery store or the people who make you smile everyday. It's a time to love yourself too by, for instance, giving yourself the rest and reflection you need.
Regardless of where you are in the world, what holiday you're celebrating or what traditions your family observes every year, we all have something in common: we're all enveloped in the "most wonderful" - and busiest - time of the year. I hope your Christmas was magical, your New Year's is fabulous and that you're enjoying every last moment of 2016.
Just don't forget to step back, take a breath and give yourself the rest you've definitely earned this year.
Do you find yourself relaxing or being extremely busy during the holidays? Do you struggle with taking time to rest and reflect? Tell me your thoughts!