“Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe
Life balance is something I struggle with on a regular basis. Running a business, raising three children and four dogs, housework, groceries, appointments and extra-curricular activities mean plenty of long days and late nights for both my husband and I.
When you add all the errands that go along with preparing for the holidays, life can become a bit of a blur. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the Christmas season and look forward each year to family gatherings, holiday concerts, decorating the tree, watching the kids’ faces light up Christmas morning and of course the food, that never seems to be in short supply. But I have found over the last few years, the hectic pace leading up to the holidays can often eclipse the peace and joy of the season.
So this year, through the usual hustle and bustle, I am going to focus on giving myself gifts that restore the harmony and enjoyment of the season. Perhaps some of these are on your list as well.
- Gratitude. Every morning before I get out of bed, I will close my eyes and give thanks for all I have in my personal and professional life. Not just what I am grateful for, but why. Not just, ‘I am grateful for my daughter,’ but rather, ‘I am grateful for her smile and her zany sense of humor.’ Being specific in your gratitude really immerses a person in the practice and in that moment, it is impossible to worry or stress.
- Breath. I am willing to slow down and even pause at any point during the day when life is running me instead of the other way around. More and more research is highlighting the ineffectiveness of excessive multi-tasking and the health hazards of stress. In these hectic moments I will take time to breathe.
- Mindfulness. I will focus on being in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or lamenting about the past. When we become fully aware of what is happening in the here and now, we become wiser, more effective, and more focused in all we do. Being present is the best present you can give yourself and those around you.
- Movement. Studies have shown the best way to improve your mood is to move (motion is directly connected to emotion) so when I get stressed or down over the holidays (and feel least like moving) I will get my bum up and move – a walk in nature, the gym, a yoga class or maybe just a jump on the trampoline!
- Self-care. This one needs to be non-negotiable in all our lives. Time to rest and rejuvenate should be high on our needs list, second perhaps only to oxygen. And when you feel like you can’t take time for yourself—this is when you need it most. For me this means a warm bath, curling up with a good book, watching a movie with some hot cocoa or maybe even a massage.
While giving myself five gifts for Christmas might seem a little over-indulgent, I know the rewards extend beyond my own health and well-being, to my husband, children and those around me. Slowing down to enjoy the holiday season and all its blessings is actually the gift that keeps on giving, as those around you sense your joy cannot help but feel more of the same. So go ahead and indulge – what type of gifts can you give yourself to make this the best Christmas yet?
“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness; To an opponent, tolerance; To a friend, your heart; To a customer, service; To all, charity; To every child, a good example; To yourself, respect.” ~Oren Arnold