This time of year always feels like a tug-of-war to me. SO MUCH to do, BUSY here, BUSY there, BUSY BUSY everywhere, but it is cold and grey, and all i want to do is settle down in front of the fire, read, drink tea, and make forts with my kids. With all this busyness and running about, self care often flies out the window. We eat crappy food, forget to exercise, skip yoga, and scratch meditation, so that we can get all the busy done. And…get it done we do, but often times the result is our unraveling. This time of year we are all prone to sickness, stress, and exhaustion which is a perfect storm brewing within, just at a time when we are gearing up for quality time with friends and family.
The holidays are a time of selflessness, a time to be-for other people, but if the well has runneth dry there is no you to be-for anyone. So what can we do to care for and nurture ourselves during this time of year, so that we can be peaceful and present for the ones that we love, and remain healthy and grounded at the same time? I find that the most effective tool that i have is to continue to listen to, and check in with my big-picture voice.
Have you noticed that you have two voices in your head, or felt like you have two selves, often at battle within? Lets call these two voices the big-picture voice, and the little-picture voice. The big-picture voice knows what would be best for you in the long run, and often suggests positive activities and coping mechanisms that support your big-picture goals, such as, “During this holiday season i am going to continue attending my regular yoga class, skip the holiday candy at work, and take some quiet time each evening to sit by the fire and read instead of watch TV, because i know that all these things will make me feel healthy and nourished.” The little-picture voice is the voice that says, “I am too tired to go to yoga, instead i will sit here and check Facebook for 2 + hours. When the little-picture voice sees the holiday candy at work it says, “Aww man, i can’t pass up caramel turtles”, and it screams up again at the end of the day,”I can have my quiet time tomorrow, but tonight i deserve to binge watch Game of Thrones.”
The thing is that yoga, candy, quiet time, and Game of Thrones are not good or bad in and of themselves. But knowing what is good for us, and setting our intentions on what is in our best interest, and then sabotaging our good intentions daily can be a huge drain. Not only are we not getting the self care we need, but we are chipping away at the faith we have in our resolve. If our resolve keeps getting chipped away, it can ultimately lead to a huge case of the fuck-its. Fuck-it, it is the holidays and i am just going to do whatever the little-picture voice says, i.e.; skip the yoga, chow down on the office goodies, and watch Grey’s Anatomy re-runs until 2am. Which can lead to a life time of the fuck-its. Fuck-it, I am no good at yoga… i am destined to be unhealthy, i am addicted to sugar…i cannot resist the temptation, There is no time for me-time… so i just give up. The short term and terminal fuck-its is a dark and low place to be, but it can be avoided by tuning into your big-picture voice, and choosing again and again to honor the big-picture plan.
What is your big-picture plan? To get in touch with what the big-picture voice is saying and what your big-picture plan is, you need to start getting really curious about a few things that are going on in your mind, body, and soul.
1. Who is doing the talking, and who are you listening to: Each action we take is preempted by an internal dialog. Is your action a result of the big-picture voice or the little-picture voice.
2. Notice your reaction to each action you take. Short and long term reaction can tell you a lot about if your action is one that is coming from little-picture (short term pleasure) or big-picture (long term goal). For example, if you decide it is a great idea to eat an entire tub of ice cream, and then you feel remorseful and berate yourself, chances are that it was the little-picture voice leading. Take a mental note, and next time you feel the little-picture voice asking for a repeat performance of the Ben and Jerry’s binge, stop and breathe, and just get curious about who is doing the talking and who you would like to listen to.
3. Get really clear about your big-picture vision. Think about it, talk it out with a trusted friend, journal about it, and get familiar with the things that nourish your mind, body, and soul long term. If you know what you want, and you know what makes you feel good it is much easier to stick to the plan. But first you have to have a plan, and create road map, so when the little-picture voice sneaks up and tries to steer you off course you can get right back on track.
4. Be super gentle with yourself. Even if you are really clear about what actions nourish your big-picture, chances are that from time to time you will give into what the little-picture voice has to say. We are all human, and sometimes immediate gratification wins out. If you notice that your little-picture has lead you down a path to yucky-land, try not to beat yourself up. You have a whole lifetime to get to know yourself, and this is all just a practice in awareness. Our ultimate goal is to feel healthy, grounded, at peace, and all filled up, so that we can be-for ourselves and be-for the ones that we love.
Enjoy! Happy Holidays and a mindful New Year to you!