A Monthly Wellness Column
By Amie Mignatti
As the holidays quickly approach, there is a whole lot that we need to get done. We need to plan our trips, organize ourselves and our families, decorate, cook, bake, shop, attend or give parties, and somehow enjoy ourselves in these full times.
We often tend to overlook our own personal needs, and we stretch ourselves thin to make sure that everything gets done and everyone is happy. Before we begin to jump into the madness of the holidays, let’s make it a priority this year to pause, check in with ourselves and ask ourselves what we need to feel at our best. How can we arrange this time of year so that we do not feel overwhelmed, stressed out, angry and out of sorts?
One of the first things we can do is not overplan. It’s very easy to say yes to all the invitations, to offering our time and skills for our children’s activities and schools and to plunge into huge cooking and creative projects. However, using hindsight as our guide, let’s not take it all on this year. I suggest having a visual calendar that has a daily, weekly and monthly overview and to use this as your medium from which to arrange your life. The best thing to do is to do only several “extra” things per week on top of your normal routine. If you know that even in the weekly routine, you need several nights off, then stick to that. Make the holidays no different than normal days would be. What often ends up happening is that we stretch ourselves (and our families as well) so thin that we end up sick and are unable to keep up with what we already have going on.
Once the invitations start coming in, prioritize which ones are necessary, which ones you really want to attend, and which ones are not that important. Say no without regret and say yes with all of your heart. If you get an invitation for an event that you feel you need to go to, but really don’t want to- listen to that inner voice and don’t attend. It will save your health and well-being in the end. No one benefits from a woman who is doing something out of necessity rather than out of love.
When it comes to shopping and meal preparations, keep it simple. Make a list of which gifts you want to buy or make, and also make a list of what you want to cook, what you need and how much time it will take to make. Look at your daily schedule: if you are in a part of town one day where you can get a bit of shopping done, do it then, rather than saving it all for one day or the last minute. Proper planning is crucial to maintaining our energy and vitality during this season.
If you are traveling for the holidays, reflect on what you’ve done and how you’ve felt in the past. Traveling during peak holiday times with children requires a whole lot of extra time. Build that time into your planning so that you are not feeling rushed and stressed out. Perhaps you don’t take a flight immediately after school is out, but instead give yourself a buffer day on both ends. Yes, this may mean a day or two less on your trip, but the benefits of this greatly outweigh the stress that comes with traveling.
There is a great quote from spiritual guru Ram Dass that says, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” Whether or not you are on the path to enlightenment, this one really hits home. We build our own lives the way we want them to be, we feel comfortable in them and we own the decisions we make. Most of us live far from our families of origin and in doing that, things are pretty smooth. Once we step back into our families’ homes, we, and our parents, revert immediately back to the roles of our teenage selves. Even if we think we’ve moved beyond that time and place in our lives, we are somehow slammed back into the old patterns of living with our parents and siblings. It’s a crazy phenomenon, and happens to the best of us. If you know that you will be triggered by your family, then take steps to make this less of a problem: stay somewhere else, or spend only a few days there and act as a guest, as you would in any other home.
The holidays are meant to be a time of love, of gratitude, of happiness, of giving and sharing- yet somehow, they tend to bring up anger, discontentment and stress. If we remember to honor ourselves in this process and take time out to focus on ourselves, then they can be full of goodness. It’s not selfish to take time out and get a massage, go work out, have a spa day or spend time with good friends. This is what we need to remember and to create during this season. If we need help, then let’s ask for it, and not feel guilty about what we are not doing, but put our whole heart and self into what we are doing.
I wish you all a relaxing, fun and joyous holiday season!
Amie Mignatti is a free spirited woman with her feet on the earth and her heart in the stars. After traveling the world for many years, she landed in Munich where she wears many different hats: yoga teacher, nature coach, outdoor educator for children, English teacher. She also runs personal development courses for women in nature. She and her family are happiest outdoors with friends and campfires.
Check out her blog here.