The Holidays are over! Some of my clients are jubilant while others are morose as they take down holiday decorations, re-establish their diets and exercise programs, and prepare to return to school/work/life. Regardless of how one celebrates “the holidays,” the period between Thanksgiving and January 1st seems to be loaded, both with activity and emotion.
Before the memories of this year’s holiday season begin to fade, I urge you to spend a few moments reflecting upon the past several weeks. Chinese Five Element theory values the season of Winter because the slower pace of life in winter encourages us to slow down as well, allowing us the opportunity for rest and renewal. Just as the landscape has been reduced to the bare bones of the trees and animals have stopped all superfluous activity, the winter months offer us the chance to think about what is really essential for us in life, what we need at a very deep level to keep our spirit fed. When we spend some time doing this, we find that the subsequent months are more meaningful and that life flows more smoothly.
Try the following exercise:
- Think about the things that you deeply enjoyed about this past holiday season. What really fed your spirit? Examples might be: finding the perfect gift for a friend, spending time with your family, or attending an inspiring church service. Jot down three or four activities that were really special for you.
- Now, think about the things that drained you. What felt toxic? Decorating the house? Addressing holiday greeting cards? Spending too much money? Again, write down a couple of things you did over the past month that made you feel tired, irritable, or resentful.
- Finally, think about what you can do NOW and over the next eleven months to ensure that your life next December includes more Type 1 activities and fewer Type 2 activities.
If you really hate decorating, for example, think about how you could pack away the holiday decorations this year so that they are more easily accessible next year. Throw or give away the things you put up year after year that no longer have meaning for you or no longer fit your life and see how much better you feel!
On the other hand, if you really enjoy decorating, then plan now – and write this in your calendar - to take a vacation day in late November or early December, devoted entirely to creating a feel of holiday magic for your home.
Did you end the year in despair over your credit cards bills? Then begin now to talk to your family and friends about setting a limit on spending, or plan to set aside some money each month to have available for holiday gift and supply purchases later in the year.
Perhaps you were surprised this year by how attending a concert of holiday music or a spiritual service lifted your spirits. Make a note in your calendar to review concert schedules when they come out in the fall, and buy tickets to ensure that you will make space for these important activities once the hectic days of the holidays begin.
Come up with three or four concrete ways to ensure that your holidays are more nourishing and less draining, and take the initial steps to implement them.
I urge you to sit down and do this exercise NOW before the spring gardening catalogs arrive and Valentine’s Day displays pop up in the stores. Taking the time now to reflect on the holidays will help ensure that you will thrive – not just survive – in the Holiday Season!