Let’s face it ladies. We are about to enter overload season. Whether you love the holidays or hate them, whether you will be surrounded by friends and family or solo, whether you’ll be crafting ginormous meals and going all out decking the halls or ordering pizza and begrudgingly putting up a Charlie Brown tree or cardboard Menorah, the holidays are stressful. We women do stuff. A lot of stuff. And this time of year, we heap on more stuff.
For those who know me, this is truly an example of that old adage, the pot calling the kettle black. I’m kind of a “doer” on turbo. But I’m in good company. One of my BFFs is currently going through the stressful time in life that we all hit at some point, where she is regularly concerned about her aging mother. She admitted the other day that she is “compensating for worrying about mom by over-committing to everything else in my life.” Sound familiar? The kicker is, whether you are actively and physically “doing” a lot is only half (or less than half) of the story. Because our brains are always “doing.” We are thinking, planning, worrying, all the time. And that “stuff” we heap on from November through January adds to our already full brains and emotions.
It has taken me a lifetime so far to come to terms with how I roll and have made some decisions. I’ve stopped making the pledge that “this year will be different.” I’ve stopped making my annual false promises to myself that this year I’ll cut back and simplify, or this year I’ll get all of my shopping done earlier so I can just lay around and do nothing, or this year I’ll run away to a tropical island. Because I do love the holidays, in all their craziness. It’s just that I’m getting older and more tired and less up for the stress. So while I’ll very likely still be doing just a much HEO (Holiday Extra Overload) on top of my usual life activities, I’ve determine there is one small, simple thing that I must do. Every day.
I must do one daily thing just for me. One thing that is NOT work, chores, caretaking, volunteering, holiday prep, whatever. As far as we know, we only go around in this life, in this body, at this time, once. So shouldn’t we do at least one thing each day that celebrates this life and who we are while we can, and put a bit more enjoyment into it? Whether you are in a really good place in your life right now, or are really struggling through dark times, we all need a moment every day that isn’t on the list of “gotta do’s”. Yeah, I know…. You just snorted and said “like any of us have time for that”, or “right, I WISH, I’m just too busy – you said every DAY?!”
Yes, I did say every day, and trust me, I’m usually the first one with that snort thing happening. I’ve felt the pang of jealousy every time I hear of an RW who is spending the afternoon watching chick flicks, or has spent the day plowing through a great novel, or goes every week for a massage. Bravo to any of you who can accomplish that level of regular self-care. Once I got past my jealousy and sarcasm, I realized it is all about scale. Doing one thing does not have to be grand, or time consuming. Nor should it be the very last thing you squeeze in at the end of the day when you are exhausted and can’t keep your eyes open to appreciate your mini you-moment. Small daily life-and-me (L&M) celebrations can be as simple as going for a 15-minute walk on a beautiful day, or going for a drive with the windows open and your favorite tunes playing. It can be finding a quiet corner to stare out the window and eat a chocolate bar. Or having a 6-minute dance party for one, blasting your favorite music and shaking your booty while no one’s watching. Some can harness the art of a 10-minute meditation. For others, it can be watching half an hour of your guilty pleasure reality tv, cooking competition, or Hallmark drivel. Beware though, don’t be like me and determine that if you are sitting in front of the tv you MUST be multi-tasking and doing something productive at the same time… at least not during your L&M moment.
It can be really really hard for RW’s to break away from responsibilities and the other people in our lives to give ourselves a short time out. With careful consideration, some L&M celebrations can benefit others – like if you can take an afternoon for lunch and shopping with a good friend, then you both win. Yesterday I did a short outing at lunch to a lovely hilltop view not far from my house. I took the dogs with me, so the walk benefited them too. But the key here is to only invite others into our L&M celebrations if it still is giving us responsibility-free joy. If not, then go ahead and be selfish and carve out even a few minutes of time with no one else. They will all survive without you long enough to breathe and just be for a few moments.
I will be honest that on my newly focused daily quest, sometimes I just don’t make it happen. There are going to be those days, and plenty of them. But I figure if we all try hard now to carve out short breaks for ourselves, we will create a habit that just might help us get through the coming weeks feeling a wee bit less stressed. Today was one of those days for me where I struggled to find that free moment in time. But the weather was beautiful, so on my lunch break while running fairly boring errands, I put the windows down in my car, put on my shades, turned up the radio, and took the longer way back to the office. It wasn’t much, but it was something. Like I said, it is all about scale, and some days we just have to carve out what we can get.
So tell me, what’s your L&M celebration going to be today?