December 2, 2013
Slowing Down in December
December is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. Hot toddy’s, Elf, stockings hung by the chimney with care…I love it all and I look forward to this month all year.
But something funny happened around this time last year; an experience I don’t care to repeat.
On Christmas Eve of last year I couldn’t get out of bed. I was so tired I couldn’t move for the entire day. It was so strange. And of course, because my brain works the way it does, this made me anxious: Do I have mono? Am I really sick? Is there something wrong with me? But no, turns out I was just exhausted. Literally all I did that day was make a bagel. And I couldn’t even finish it. I just went back to bed midway through because it was so tiring. It was so strange! So Kafka-esque. But now, with a little hindsight I completely understand why this happened.
For me, it is the most wonderful time of the year — and also one of the most demanding. We’ve got gifts to buy, parties to attend, parties to host, family in town, travel, work—now add to that all of the treats and alcohol we typically consume in this month and it’s no wonder that it gets a little exhausting.
I’m hoping to approach this December with a little more balance. Here are a few goals I’m setting for myself and I’d love to hear yours as well!
1. Be realistic about my expectations. I think one reason December tends to stress me out is that I look forward to it almost all year. That’s a lot of pressure for one month to live up to. It’s Christmas! And New Year’s! And I get some days off of work! It’s all very exciting, but I think in some ways, I put too much pressure on the events and myself to make it like the best thing ever. Here’s a great example: my birthday is on December 23rd and as far back as I can remember I’ve had a really big, everyone’s invited kind of birthday party. It’s always fun and I always get to see people I haven’t seen in forever but it can also feel overwhelming and trying to pick a date around the holidays to celebrate and a place to go to always stresses me out. When I was 23, it was just what I wanted to do for my birthday but at 28, my preferences have changed. So this year I’ve planned a couple of things that are much more low key and I can’t wait to celebrate with my family and the friends and loved ones I feel closest to. It’s going to be really weird to not have a big party this year, but it’s a change of pace I’m excited for.
2. Indulge in the healthy stuff too. My eating routine changes a lot in December. I start making those things that I look forward to all year: cookies, beef stew, mashed potatoes. It’s like I save it all up for this month and throw my normal, sensible eating habits to the wind. And though I’m not sure I’ll be making salmon and quinoa again until January (boring, am I right?), I think there’s space to indulge in some healthy stuff too. Why not buy a fancy jug of local kombucha in addition to that box of delicious shortbread cookies? I really do believe in treating ourselves this month, but I think making room for those healthier indulgences (another margarita at the work party…and that yoga class tomorrow!) can make the difference between getting worn out and staying healthy til the New Year.
3. Schedule time for myself. I’ve noticed that the most successful, productive people I know, those people who actually seem to do it all and still look put together, prioritize themselves more than the average person. I don’t often find them complaining about how busy they are (even though they’re super busy) or how they never have time to take care of themselves because they make time to take care of themselves and they don’t feel bad about it. Scheduling time for ourselves (like actually blocking it out on our calendars) for a bath, meditation, exercise, etc. is so important but something I often neglect. Hoping I can practice getting better at this one!
I really do think December is inherently special; you’ve made it through another year! You’ve grown, learned, failed, succeeded, fallen down, gotten back up and you’re still standing. It’s time to reflect, enjoy and relax. It’s time to celebrate and reward yourself…but also to be kind to yourself.
Do you have any self-care tips for this busy time of year? I’d love to hear them!