Welcome to December. The Season of Light is upon us, and there is just no getting around it – the hustle and bustle of that is coming too! Many times over the years, I have been asked to write about coping with the holidays and offer some stress management strategies specific to this time of year. It’s important, because it’s a time when we can easily drop into ‘rushing’ and stop listening to ourselves and all the messages our bodies gives us each day to remind us that what we are often doing is actually contraindicated to our overall sense of health and well being. So for this particular ‘Monday Musings,’ I thought I might share some thoughts about managing the holidays in a way that serves you for your highest good.
Why do I mention managing in a way that ‘serves you for your highest good.’? Well … because in addition to maintaining our physical and mental well being in the weeks ahead, our Soul needs attention too. After all – as we move into Winter – and consider the significance of the coming Solstice – the truth is that we are supposed to be entering the season of reflection, cocooning, and internal solitude. It is the season of slowing down! It’s interesting to note this, because the holidays are often anything but! Perhaps we need one last big bang of social activity before we can really quiet our minds and allow ourselves to explore the gift that comes from the darkness of winter?
As well as preparing for the slowing down, this time of year also offers our Soul an opportunity to drop into the energy of Love. I believe this is what people mean when they talk about the ‘Christmas Spirit.’ Please know that this doesn’t always come easy, and from my own living and learning, I find that it’s best not to force it. If that is your truth this year, just know that it’s okay, you are normal. You are not a ‘Grinch,’ or a grump, or anything else you may perceive your Self to be that is somehow not living up to the expectations of others. The ‘Spirit of the Season,’ whatever that is to you, will find it’s way into your heart when it is the right time for you. Some years that means that all your shopping is done and the tree is up by December 1st, and other times, it means that those things won’t be attended to until the last minute. Sometimes it means that you will be up for large crowds and lots of celebration, and other times it means you might honour your Self with a some quiet music and still time. It is all perfect.
Here are a few specific tips from us at Here and Now Health to help you to take care of all parts of you during the month ahead – Body, Mind, Heart and Soul!
- Eat healthy! Yes, we know – this is almost impossible during a month of parties, celebrations, nights out, drop-ins, baking, gifting, expectations, etc., etc. But it will make a world of difference in your ability to manage the holiday schedule! Give your body and mind the ‘fuel’ it needs to sustain itself over the long haul. Keep the sugar under control, that means alcohol too!, and don’t skip out on the fruits and veggies. If you know you are going out later in the day, take enough time to honour your body with a healthy, sustainable breakfast.
- Get enough sleep. If that’s a challenge, consider a diffuser with soothing and calming essential oils in your bedroom as a way to increase your chances of quality slumber.
- Set healthy boundaries. Give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to the things that do not serve you, even if it’s just one small thing. It could be anything that you say ‘no’ to – don’t over think it! By saying ‘no,’ you give your Self the message that You Matter! And believe me, during this time of year when it is often other peoples’ needs that take the forefront, every part of you needs this reminder. Maybe you say ‘no’ to an extra night out with a friend and compromise with a cup of tea and a quality visit; maybe you say ‘no’ to sending out oodles of cards if it’s a task that you really don’t enjoy, and opt for e-cards or a quick email to touch base with those you love who live far away. (Or better yet, reach out the old fashioned way and give them a call!) Maybe you say ‘no’ to a long drive, or cooking a huge meal. Maybe it’s time to ask your self if you really want to put up a tree, or lights, or whatever it is that feels like it’s just too much! In other words – change the rules! Traditions are beautiful time honored rituals that serve purpose because they provide familiarity and comfort. But if, for whatever reason, they aren’t doing that for you, know that it’s okay to change them. This often requires a huge leap of faith because we don’t want to let others down. Over time, one thing we’ve realized as we’ve shifted and flowed with the Season of Light year after year, is that there are probably others who want to change the tradition too. Sometimes it just takes someone being courageous enough to put it out there!
- Let the ‘Light’ come in to your heart naturally. There is no ‘one day’ or ‘one way’ to bring your heart into an open and giving place during this time of year. The beauty of the season is that eventually it just comes on it’s own accord. December has it’s own soft and alluring energy, and if we are open to moving ‘in flow’ with the gift of Nature/the Earth/the Mother, our heart will shift when it’s the right time for us; and this is probably a different time each and every year. If you are struggling this year with finding that place in your heart, you can aid the shift by indulging in a random act of kindness. Our Soul is the part of ourselves that needs to experience unconditional love, kindness, compassion, giving; without any expectation of receiving something back. No matter what you may tell your Self, this cannot be experienced with someone with whom you have an attachment. So find a way to extend beyond your own Circle to reach out to another being by offering a gesture of kindness. Again, this effort can be big or small. It doesn’t matter. A friend shared with me just yesterday that it’s her ‘off year’ with her family, meaning she is free on Christmas Day to do as she pleases. She has chosen to go and serve the Christmas meal in her local soup kitchen. We experienced that once many years ago when Christmas Day presented itself to us in such a way, and we know she will feel full and complete in this experience. But it doesn’t have to be that big. Just a week or so ago, I found myself by a sudden state of joy and I was bursting so much with love, I just had to share it. So I drove through our local ‘Tim Hortons’ coffee drive through and indulged in a small ‘pay it forward’ gesture by paying for the items purchased by the car behind me when I drove up to the window. Someone did this for me a few years back and I have never forgotten how it made me smile. Another way to move yourself into open-hearted expression is to view life through the eyes of a child. We all have an inner child within and from this place, the innocence of creativity and imagination is born. I watched a short movie on Facebook the other day about how a mother had helped turn her 7 year old boy into ‘Santa’ by having him search out and find someone in his neighborhood who needed help, and then helped him to leave a gift on that porch from ‘Santa;’ which meant this little boy got to experience the gift of unconditional giving. You get the idea. Life is a beautiful mystery. Opportunities for creative kindness are presented everywhere if we are willing to look. Just give without expecting anything back.
- Experience your own ritual that works for you, created by you, directed by you, embraced by you, sustained by you. Let it be yours and yours alone. Take a moment to get quiet, breathe into that centered place within your Self and ponder on what this might be. Own it. Feel free to include others in it, but also don’t feel like you have to. Again, it can by anything, big or small. For the past several years, we have met our own unique need in this way by attending the First Light Celebration at Ste. Marie Among the Hurons in Midland, ON. Sometimes we invite people to come with us, sometimes we don’t . This annual event started early this year, at end of November actually, and we decided to go with some visiting family members on opening weekend. Maybe that helped us to shift into the subtle loving energy of December a little early. Maybe that gave us the focus and the feeling to take the time to offer up our coping nuggets to you through this bit of writing this year. Whatever shifted us, this year our tree is up early, our boundaries have been established, we have done most of our shopping and changed a lot of our traditions. We’ve said ‘no’ to some old things, and ‘yes’ to some new things. We’ve embraced the significance of this ‘Number One‘ year by continuing to invite the energy of transformation that has been a significant part of our lives for the past 11 months, and we intend to continue to do so right through the Holiday Season. If something we have shared here today seems significant to you as you make your own plans for the remaining days of 2017, please share your comments, and if you’ve got some other coping tips for fellow readers, we’d love to hear those too.
May the ‘Spirit’ of the Season by yours, in whatever way serves your Highest Good and Highest Healing for 2017;
Cheryl Moore and Dino Pangrazzi, Here and Now Health Services