Our activity level inevitably ramps up when the holiday season arrives. Yet, you can still enjoy the spirit of the season to the fullest without burning the Christmas lights at both ends. Your ideas of what you should and shouldn’t do, what you must do, who you can’t say “No” to will lead you down a path of Holiday burnout. But, if you let go of the LIES (labels, illusions, excuses and stories) that rob you of loving, authentic connection – which is the very meaning of the season – no LIES will limit your joy.
The key to getting through the holidays without burning out is the same as getting through any situation in your life, whole and intact. You must decide and commit to the outcome you want. During the holiday joy, love and peace should reign supreme. Test any action or commitment you’re considering against the questions, “Will doing this help me to experience joy, love and peace? Will it help me add to other’s experience of joy, love and peace?” If your answer to both questions is, “Yes,” then, by all means go for it! Your commitment to yourself becomes the touchstone for deciding what you will and won’t do.
Here are suggestions for letting your light shine, rather than burn out.
Avoid Over-Committing Yourself
Squeezing it in squeezes you out. When you squeeze in many things, you may fit it all in, but you’re likely to be distracted, concerned about getting to the next event versus thoroughly enjoying what you’re doing and who you’re with. That means you’re not really present and in the moment. Your body, mind and energy are split. One piece of you – probably just your body – is there and the other pieces – your mind and emotional energy – are off doing the next thing on your checklist. Life is lived most fully in the present. Give yourself the time and space to truly have your body, mind and emotions all in the same room, focused on right now – what’s going on and who you’re with.
Avoid over-committing by saying, “No. Thank you. I won’t be able to join you this time.” If you want to share time with the person, suggest planning a January or February get-together. It’s good to have something to look forward to.
Find Opportunities to Renew and Re-Energize
Be flexible in the way you manage your schedule, insuring you get adequate rest. If you stay up late, plan your schedule so you can sleep late the next day.
Clear your mind. Take five minutes and breathe deeply. Focus only on your breath – the coolness of your inhale and the warmth of your exhale. This technique will help you relax your body and your mind as you focus on only one thing – your breath as it moves in and out without effort.
With our busy work lives, we seldom have time to take a nap. During the holidays, many of us take time off. This provides a perfect opportunity to take a midday or late afternoon nap. Slip in a snooze before or after your activities. A fifteen-minute power nap can be refreshing. An hour nap can replenish your energy.
Exercise. It may be as simple as stretching to open tight muscles, or a walk to raise your heart rate and clear your mind. Dancing is fabulous exercise, and a perfect way to help your body feel good and elevate your mood.
Listen to music to lift your mood, calm jagged nerves, soothe your soul. Choose music that makes you feel happy, light and free.
Holidays often mean our home is full of other people who are not normally there – kids home from college, adult children and grandchildren, out of town guests, drop-ins – all delightful company and all encroaching on your space and privacy. If you need time alone to recharge, be sure to take it. Give yourself what you need. When you do, you’ll be a much more pleasant and present host.
Taking care of yourself means you’ll have more to give to others – and give without resentment or annoyance or feeling put upon.
Ways to Prioritize During A Time When Everything Seems Like A Priority
If you think everything is a priority, you’re trapped in an illusion – a story you tell yourself that simply isn’t true. Your only real and first priority is YOU, not others. It’s like they tell us when we board a plane and are taken through the safety briefing, “Put your oxygen mask on first, then help others.” A depleted you is a compromised you. Taking care of your need for rest, time to think, need for help, need to do nothing is your first priority. Everyone will adjust to your choice, even if they miss you because you decided not to join them.
Get a lay of the land you call your life. Write down all agreements you’ve made to connect with others. If you have to rush from one thing to another, pare it down. Choose to be in the places and with the people who are most meaningful to you. Give your time and energy to that which is most significant and satisfying.
As funny as it may sound, your, “No, thanks,” to an invitation may provide longed-for relief – for you and your prospective host. Many holiday invitations are extended as a courtesy, tradition or out of a sense of obligation. When you respond from your truth and say, “No, not this time. Thank you,” you relieve yourself of a forced obligation and you may just give the person who invited you to a sense of relief, too.
This holiday season, and every day, live your truth. Make choices that are in keeping with your goal of good self-care. When you care for yourself first, you have more to give to others.