The Year End Push

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Mid November? Really? Honestly, if you told me it was June, I’d believe you. And in spite of the year having flown by so quickly, everyone I speak to is tired. It seems that many of us are pretty much hanging in there and not much else.
A lot of people haven’t had any time off at all. Many are just waiting for the final exams to end and for schools to close. The general feeling is one of crawling over the finish line, waiting for holidays to begin, because then, finally, all will be well.
Maybe all will be well.

But I can’t say I’m convinced.

The same people who are desperate for their much-needed break seem to have plans for the December holidays filled with even more busyness. Visiting relatives, jam-packed schedules, an over-committed diary of social activities.
When I listen to what people have in store for their supposed season of rest, I can’t help wondering how this is all going to work out.

Rest. It’s quite a specific word. 

According to Google’s dictionary, it means to “cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep or recover strength”.
Not many of us really give ourselves the opportunity to do this completely. The holiday season is hardly about “ceasing movement” and despite our best intentions we seldom catch up on much-needed sleep.
So here’s another way of looking at the concept of rest, and how you can use your time off to really replenish and revive:

R – Restore. 

This is about bringing yourself back to your former state of wellness. Remember that feeling? Yup, it might have been a while since you did.  Restore is about coming home to yourself in a way that reminds you of who you are, and how it feels to feel good in body. When you are doing more of the things that make you feel like you, you feel greater alignment, more clarity and an overall sense of joy.
What are the kinds of things you can do during December that restore your sense of “you”? What are the things that always make you feel good to be you, that remind you of who you are, but maybe have forgotten about in the meantime?
You don’t have to choose big tasks or find an extra 3 hours in your day if this feels overwhelming. Even 15 minutes a day doing something that feels good to you, will help restore your sense of wellbeing.  Gardening, reading, walking, surfing, singing, calling an old friend… whatever your vibe is, allocate time to do it this holiday season.

E – Exhale

When we exhale, we let go. If we want to make the most of a “time out” period, we have to prioritise letting go. And this means learning to say no. If we want to feel the benefits of a holiday, we need to allow the space for deep rest. And this means cutting down on whatever adds a sense of heaviness. It also means placing boundaries around obligations, expectations and justifications.
What do you need to let go of this holiday period? Hosting Christmas at your house yet again? Saying yes to extended visitors? Trying to pack in too many social functions in one day?
How can you let go of the expectations you place on yourself this time of year? To be the perfect hostess? To stick to an eating plan? To plan the best event?
Where else can you let go? What can you release yourself from to better serve your need to rest?

S – Simplify

For me, the most restful, restorative holidays have always been the ones in which I did as little as possible. Trips to the mountains where the day consisted of little other than spending time in nature, hiking and sleeping. Or beach holidays where an entire day was whiled away reading books in the sun, swimming and snacking.
The Danish have a term for this. It’s called hyggae (pronounced hoo – ga) and it refers to the sense of warmth and connection that comes from spending time on the simple stuff.  Spending your evenings connecting around the table instead of the TV – that’s hyggae. So is creating a beautiful picnic on the beach with friends, baking with your daughter or taking a solo hike through a forest.
The easiest way to introduce this sense of simplicity into your December break is to reduce your use of technology. If you can’t cut it out entirely, at least set specific guidelines for when you will connect. And leave the rest of your day for real connection. With yourself, and with others.
How might you introduce the concept of simplicity into your holiday period? What are some daily “hyggae” practices that will bring you back to basics? What conversation might you need to have with others to make it happen?

T – Tend

Tending is about taking care of your own needs too. Tending to yourself means learning to listen to your body. Where the rest of the year sees us making excuses (no time, have to push through, can’t afford to stop), the December break is the one opportunity we really do have to listen to what our bodies are telling us.
Feeling tired? Take a nap. Feeling triggered? Go for a walk. Hip sore? Skip that run.
Tending to your own needs means firstly that you are aware of what you need and secondly, that you take action to fulfill these needs.  
To tune in to your body’s needs, you can practice some slow, deep breathing to centre yourself.  Long, full breaths in and out, several times. Once you’re settled, simply ask your body what it needs. Start by asking simple “this or that?” questions and then let your body choose. Shall I go to the party? Or stay at home? Shall I eat steak? Or shall I eat fish?
Your body gives you your answer through the way it feels. You’ll feel a lightness or heaviness around the answer, and that there is your compass.

And we then honour that wisdom by listening.