I love Christmas, the Winter Solstice, and the end of the year because it’s a time that can be filled with joy and gratitude and renewal. It is the darkest time of year for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and we hold onto the knowledge that things change, that the world around us is in constant motion, as are we. We think with hope of longer, warmer days and the blooming of spring.
But sometimes the holidays can be quite challenging. For many, it can be a time of loneliness, missing people who are not here or not being involved in the hustle and bustle of the masses. We might be confronted with people and patterns that are difficult for us to deal with gracefully. We might be overscheduled, overcommitted, or overburdened with expectations, either our own or other people’s. We might be tired from the year that’s ending.
I’ve come up with a list of tips for my own personal sanity this year, and I’m going to share them with you. Your mileage, as always, may vary.
1. Prioritize and let go. Let go of as much as you can. Figure out what is truly important to you, and be flexible about everything else. This might include letting go of what other people might want from you, too.
2. Treat yourself. For me, this often means yummy consumables: pumpkin spice chai, hot cider, cookies, ice cream, holiday treats. For others, this might mean a massage or a trip to the library or window shopping or playing a video game.
3. Give yourself time. If you’re really busy, maybe this is five minutes at the end of the day to sit and do nothing. Maybe it’s time to take a bubble bath or time to take a walk or time to watch a favorite movie. For me this year, it’s time to read, and it’s truly blissful.
4. Let yourself feel how you feel. There can be so many shoulds, especially around the holidays when you “should” be perfectly happy and want to do all the things. But give yourself space to feel sad or lonely or angry or anxious or whatever emotion comes up. It’s fine to have a multilayered experience. It’s fine if the holidays are hard.
5. Make health a priority. Do your best to get enough sleep, to eat healthy foods, and to exercise to the best of your ability. (With a healing ankle, that means a five minute walk for me, but hey! Five minutes are five minutes.) Wash your hands. Stretch. Dress warmly if it’s cold outside.
6. Reach out to your people. Take the initiative to make plans that make you feel happy and safe. If you’re not able to spend the holidays physically with your people, remind yourself of their existence. Text, call, comment on Facebook. Surround yourself, either physically or virtually, with people who you like and who like you.
7. Hold onto hope. The future is full of possibilities.
I hope you all have a peaceful and happy End of Year. But if that isn’t your experience, that’s just fine too. The wheel keeps turning, and the days keep going by. 2014 will be here soon enough.