Image by Kaptain Krispy Kreme via Flickr
When traveling by plane, flight attendants ensure that you know what to do in case of an emergency. If the oxygen mask is released from the ceiling you are instructed to put on your own mask before assisting others around you. If you can’t breathe you can’t help anyone else. We would do well in everyday life to remember this simple lesson.
As we embark upon this theme of giving we must begin with giving to self for you cannot pour from an empty glass. If your own energy, and spirits are depleted you will have nothing to give to those you love. In the hustle and bustle of this month, self-care usually falls at the bottom the list. This is especially true if your or your family have additional stresses such as job loss or illness. However, heightened stress makes self-care even more essential.
Many of us mistake self-interest for selfishness. Self-interest is necessary for your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Stress and burn out compromise your immune system and decrease your ability to function well. Skipping your yoga class or nightly reading session may feel like the right thing to do but in fact you will find that you are less productive because you have not replenished your own needs.
Listed below are 7 gifts you can give yourself this holiday season.
Time. Family, friends and celebrations are wonderful but we all need time alone. Carve out time daily to relax, restore and replenish. Meditate, knit, take a bubble bath, write poetry, draw, read or take a walk.
The Gift of No. Free yourself from obligations that weigh you down and steal your energy and joy. Give of yourself only to places and people that align with your purpose, things that energize and refresh you.
The Gift of Now. Whatever happened last year, or last month, let it go. The holiday season can be rife with tension and old wounds as we spend time with surly siblings, overbearing in-laws or others with whom we share DNA but nothing else. Resolve to let go of past hurts and live in the moment. Your in-laws are your spouse’s parents and in this moment he or she has the joy of sharing another holiday season with them. Being present and open to the now frees you to fully experience the joy.
Exercise. Movement improves your mental and physical conditioning but at this time of year it may be the first thing you ditch from your to-do list. Exercise will keep your energized and mentally fresh equipping you to manage the demands of the season. Exercise does not have to be a 90 minute sweat session at the gym. Do something that’s fun for you. Go ice skating, sledding, surfing, or just crank up your Ipod and dance yourself silly.
A healthy diet. Nourish your body with foods that satisfy and enhance your health. Over indulging in baked goods and alcohol may satisfy in the moment but often leave you feeling sluggish and heavy. Have the treats in moderation but be good to your body by fueling it with life giving foods.
The Gift of Imperfection. Martha Stewart Syndrome is an epidemic at this time of year. Avoid this dreadful disease of perfectionism by allowing yourself to be imperfect. Lighten up and allow yourself space and time to actually enjoy the season. Your house does not have to resemble a Norman Rockwell portrait and cookies from the bakery will taste just fine.
The Gift of Giving. Yes it’s true, giving back is actually a gift to you. Giving back improves your happiness level. Volunteer to shelve books at the local library, teach literacy, or build homes for the needy. You may choose to volunteer with an organization where you can meet business contacts, or perhaps you are single and want to make a love connection. Having an agenda does not negate the good effects of giving.
Giving to self will not only help you survive the holiday season but thrive in it. In my book that truly is cause for celebration.
How do you balance the demands of this busy season? Please feel free to share your tips, traditions or comments. All discussion is warmly welcomed.