Holidaze is not a misspelling. It is indicative of what the holidays can feel like—a holy daze! As we run around buying gifts and preparing food and celebrations, it is easy to go beyond our limits. When the gift opening or the party we have been busy preparing for finally arrives, we wonder why it is hard to enjoy it. We wonder why we feel exhausted, strung out, and stressed.
Here is a reminder to remember yourself in the rush of the holidays. What would it be like to really nurture yourself this season?
The Antidote to Exhaustion is not Rest, but Wholeheartedness
I love this idea from poet David Whyte because it works. The best way to combat stress and exhaustion is not always sleep. Sometimes you can find you are too tired to sleep—or if you do sleep, you sleep fitfully.
The real cure for feeling strung out and stressed is to find something that touches your heart and nurtures you—something that is enlivening, silly, or even a waste of time. Something that is about play, not work or your to-do list. Children know this one well. Why do you think they have so much energy?
A fast track to knowing what would be a heartfelt or nurturing activity is tuning into your inner child. Ask yourself: “What does the child in me want?” or “What is purely about fun and play for me?”
My favorite questions to people in therapy at this time of year are: What is a heartfelt activity for you? What would be nurturing?
I have found that many people have a hard time giving themselves permission to focus on their own fun and pleasure. We are often encouraged to focus on everyone else but ourselves, so it’s no surprise that at the end of all the festivities we can find ourselves feeling resentful and depleted. Yet if we focus on ourselves, we think we are being selfish. So I encourage people to reframe “selfish” and instead be “self-full.” If you are giving when your glass is full, it can be a very different experience than when your glass is nearly empty.
Here are some of my favorite ideas for self-nurturing during the holiday season:
- A hot bath with your favorite tunes and scents
- Curling up with a good book
- Calling a loved one to chat
- Playing with your pet
- A cup of hot cocoa by the fire
- Playing a game
- Drawing, painting, beading, or doing something creative
- Spending time in nature
What are your own favorite ways to nurture yourself? Remember, don’t forget to ask your inner child!
- Whyte, D. (2001). Crossing the unknown sea: Work as a pilgrimage of identity. New York: Riverhead Books.
© Copyright 2010 by Ondina Nandine Hatvany, LMFT, therapist in Mill Valley, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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