Merry Christmas – it’s time to slow down, rest, take care of yourself.
This is my FAVORITE time of year. I LOVE Christmas! As a Christian, I love all the representations of Christmas traditions, I love the lights, the trees, the music, the whole celebration. I realize not all of you are Christian and don’t worry, this is NOT about Christmas. It IS about finding rest in what seems to be one of the busiest times of the year, no matter your belief system.
Not only is this a busy time of the year, but we also tend to expose ourselves to difficult situations. This is the season when stress is high and judgments are harsh and family…is family. Yes, we spend time with those people we didn’t choose to be in our lives that sometimes aren’t easy to deal with for extended periods of time. There may be other situations we put ourselves in that are stressful: attending parties where we’re trying to stick to our goals (not drinking, not eating the unhealthy crap, etc), introducing ourselves to strangers aka meeting new people, spending money we don’t have, and subconsciously predicting negativity in a situation before we’re even in that situation, among others. Which is why rest is so very important right now.
Perhaps we should touch on what self-care is NOT, so that we have a better understanding of what this rest could be for us. Self-care is NOT drinking to excess to drown our feelings, eating to excess to bury the past, or spending to excess to try to make up for what we believe are our own shortcomings. These are just a few examples to bring your awareness to matters that may hint to deeper issues that need to be addressed. That’s a whole different post (and maybe some therapy sessions).
So, how do we do this? How do we make sure we’re taking care of ourselves in this season of stress and excess? Simply, we become intentional about it. We schedule it, we DO NOT cancel on ourselves, and we make sure the rest we choose is rejuvenating to our souls.
Rest means different things to different people. In this case, we’re talking about rest being a form of self-care, a way to decrease stress, connect with yourself, and rejuvenate mind, body, and soul. It’s important to be intentional about this process and MAKE time for your own rest and self-care. Nobody else will do it for you. And you will show up so much better – for yourself AND for others – if you fill your cup first.
The AMOUNT of rest is also different depending on your “normal.” Relative rest means just that. Relatively speaking, what does rest look like for you? If you’re used to being constantly busy with 4 kids and your full-time job and volunteer work and caring for the farm animals and milking the cow for the kids’ breakfast, your rest and self-care may look very different from the person who lives on his/her own, goes to work, watches TV, and goes to sleep at a decent time each night. The key is to do something that will help you feel rested and rejuvenated – AND BE FULLY PRESENT during that activity.
Not only should you choose an activity that you feel will truly be a soothing balm to your soul, you want to be fully present during that time. If you find your mind wandering to what you’ll make for dinner while on your run, how many loads of laundry need to be done AND the dozens of cookies you still have to bake while you’re getting a massage, or how you’ll pull off making Grandma’s perfect sweet potato pie when you can’t find the recipe while you’re taking a walk through your local park, gently bring it back to the present and enjoy the current moment.
Some examples of rest and self-care include meditation, getting a pedicure, going for a walk outside, laying on the ground and staring at the stars, taking a warm milk bath with lavender, making (and attending) that therapy appointment you know you need, going to your crossfit or yoga class, reading a personal development book, reading a really good fiction book, watching a motivational video online, throwing a solo dance party to your favorite song, calling a good friend for a much-needed conversation, communing with God, finally forgiving someone who needs to be forgiven, drawing/painting/creating…the possibilities are almost endless.
Obviously, some of these options go a little deeper than others, but another key is to do what feels right for YOU in this season. Because we tend to overextend ourselves this time of year and commit to too many activities and engagements, we often get sick, feel exhausted, and end up disliking the season. We burden ourselves this way, not because we WANT to, but because we feel obligated to do so. Obligation does not bring rejuvenation. Presence, becoming aware of the current moment, and enjoying the moment in which you’ve intentionally planted yourself will bring rejuvenation.
In this season of busy, excess, stress, and emotion, MAKE some time for yourself to rest and rejuvenate. Plant yourself in a place that brings you joy and stay in the present moment. Once you’re planted and present, you’ll feel yourself start to grow.
- What are your favorite ways to bring intentional rest to your life?
- How are you planning to incorporate rest for yourself over the next week?
- Who will your rejuvenation time be with?
- Are you planning to rest for 10 minutes, a whole weekend, or somewhere in between?