By this time of year, most of us have slid into our “busy” post-summer mode, believing that we must leave that laid-back summer routine behind us. But what if we continue to embrace that spirit of summer, what if we practice self-care throughout the holidays and into the New Year? How might our enjoyment of the holiday season be different? Is it even possible?
I believe we can change our daily practices – our habits – by making a commitment to ourselves. Developing a practice of self-care, aligned with our values and life purpose, prior to the holidays allows us to build up our reserves. Consequently, we’ll be able to respond to the stressors and demands of the season with more resilience.
As women, we tend to forgo or dismiss our wants and needs in order to give priority to caring for family, friends and work. In that we lose bits of ourselves, we feel overwhelmed, isolated and frustrated. There is too much to attend to – too many demands, obligations, responsibilities and information (papers, bills, cards, e-mails) needing our attention. If we believe that meeting our world’s needs rests on our shoulders, we feel isolated. We have no time for self-care, no time to connect with others. We become frustrated and feel trapped by obligations that don’t feel like our own. Ultimately, we feel inadequate or guilty for not being able to do it all.
How do we end up there? It’s a struggle to differentiate between a should, a need, and a want. Shoulds are those things you think you ought to want. Externally prompted .(i.e. by our ego, spouse, boss, society), they are based on shame and duty Needs are requirements – food, water, clothing, shelter, honesty, recognition. Needs are not optional. Wants are those things which you crave or desire, they are important and fulfilling to you,. Wants support your values and who you are. They create a quality of life. They provide gratification. They are natural. For example, you don’t need to exercise, but you want to be in alignment with your commitment to exercise in order to improve your health. Likewise, you don’t need to straighten your home, but you want to be in alignment with your commitment to having order in your life. Learning to differentiate between the three and to act upon your wants allows you the possibility of creating healthy, restorative self-care habits.What if we continue to embrace the spirit of summer? How might our enjoyment of the holiday season be different? Click To Tweet
Practicing self-care takes courage. It means putting integrity above promises or obligations. Being true to yourself guarantees you will have internal balance. In Change Your Life in 30 Days (Dutton Press, 2004), Rhonda Britten writes: “As you live a life that you create, you will feel more powerful and courageous. Therefore, you will start to feel that your life is your own… Your life will be fulfilled with more self-love. Your choices will be aligned with your values. Decisions will be easier to make. Life will naturally include more peace of mind and personal satisfaction. You will effortlessly be more true to yourself.”
Through a commitment to self-care we can create a sustainable, healthy existence that is not dependent on day-to-day circumstances. By bringing the best of our summertime mode into the rest of the year, we can change our Holiday experience – and our destiny – and live a life aligned with our values and our purpose.