I see you this week. You're running yourself ragged: rushing all over town to buy the perfect gifts, planning dozen-course meals, racing to parties, scrambling to mail packages and those never-ending cards, ... doing All The (Holiday) Things. It's been a mad dash since Thanksgiving to get to this point, and you know the shiny New Year~~with all its promises of fresh starts and healthy habits~~is just beyond your grasp. So you put it all out there for these last two weeks. But what's left for you?
Plenty, if you can manage to pause ... even just for a moment. Just one breath~~that's a full, deep inhale, followed by a complete, emptying exhale~~might just be the human equivalent to the reset button. I know you don't have time for much more these days. Trust me, I get it. But giving yourself at least this one mindful breath to reward yourself with optimum carbon dioxide levels will get you back on track.
There ... feel better? Want more? You can stay with that breath, maybe sitting and allowing your eyes to close. Spending "disconnected" time like this during a few stolen moments will truly feel like a mini vacation. And I'm sure you could use that right about now.
There are a few other practices you can sneak in as well:
Sleep. Turn off ubiquitous screens (and squelch the glow from remote controls and other devices you truly don't need overnight), turn down the temp a bit, and get as much as you can. I don't mean keep hitting the snooze button ... instead head to bed at a reasonable hour for you. I try to make this a non-negotiable myself, as our household gets going far earlier than most. Rest is of utmost importance in keeping colds and flu at bay, so don't underestimate it this time of year.
Water. If you haven't started carrying a refillable water bottle with you at all times, start. It's good for the environment, and for your body. Sip often, starting as soon as you wake up (bonus points for making that first glass warm with lemon), and more after exercise. Don't wait for your mouth to feel dry.
Smart food choices. It's a rule: You know there'll be decadent appetizers, alcohol and desserts at those holiday parties you skidded into on two wheels. Don't make those food choices the way you'll sustain yourself this season because you didn't have time to eat well. You'll wind up with no energy after the sugar crash, and cranky from the lack of real fuel. Indulge if that's what will truly bring you joy, but do it very mindfully and after your belly has something green inside first. Try taking some of those slow, deep breaths before you reach for a snack you may regret later. Sometimes that pause is enough to bring wisdom and attention to your actions.
Slow down. We've all been there ... we're racing to complete a task quickly and something happens (or breaks) to stop us cold. I've come to the conclusion that this is my reminder to take that breath, gather my thoughts, and start again, with purpose. It's no accident that we usually feel scattered when we're rushing, so where's the efficiency in that?
Yes, some of these things are easier than others. But find something that works for you. Your family needs you even after this crazy season is over. So do these things because you honor and respect yourself. They just may become lifelong habits.
What sustains you during the holidays?