Many of us spend the final weeks of the year in a whirlwind of plans, often leading to stress. And after shouting “Happy New Year!”, we let out a long sigh, in an attempt to release the stress from the previous year. We take a deep breath, and hope to breathe in a new sense of purpose, balance, and joy.
Some of us make new year’s resolutions, and join a gym, or throw out all the crappy food from the pantry. While others write down goals, hopes, and dreams for the coming year.
Most years, this is my pattern, too. I try to “get through” the holidays, and then regroup in January. But this December, I did things a little out of order. I still bought Christmas presents for my loved ones, attended holiday gatherings, and watched endless Christmas movies while wrapping gifts. But just when my busy month was getting started, and I began feeling anxiety between sips of eggnog, I made a conscious decision to carve out daily me time.
I decided that no matter how busy I felt, no matter how many household chores were still undone, and no matter how many texts and emails I needed to return, I would still take time for myself each day. Not a spa day, or a luxurious afternoon enjoying a good book and mocha at my favorite coffee shop, but 30 to 45 minutes of outdoor activity all by myself.
At first, this decision felt like another task that needed to be completed. And it was not without complications. Since I have small children, I had to ask my husband or parents or friends to watch my kids for my outdoor time, but it was such a short amount of time that everybody was on board.
The first day I arrived home from my brisk 3 mile walk, panting and out of breath, but with renewed energy to conquer my to do list.
Once several feet of snow had dumped on our little mountain town, my daily walks turned into pleasant loops around the local ski trails. When I returned home, my cheeks were the sorest part of my body (upper, not lower) from 45 minutes of involuntary smiling. My busy mind, often difficult to quiet at night and during yoga class, was filled with a simple, “Step, Glide. Step, Glide. Step, Glide.” as my skis followed the neatly groomed parallel white tracks.
Photo Description: Scenic picture of ski trail surrounded by snow-capped trees and blue sky
As the holiday season continued, I found the usual holiday headaches replaced with a calm inner peace.
My shopping lists were safe at home, along with 4 loads of dirty laundry, but the crisp winter air against my face pulled my attention to the present. The pristine frozen river to the right of me, and the towering pine trees flocked with snow all around me, captivated each moment and my mind remained quiet.
And I smiled like an idiot because I felt happy and content. Not the kind of fleeting happiness of a decadent hot fudge sundae, providing a short high as blood sugar spikes only to drop sharply a short time later. But the kind of happiness that permeates through the day and carries into the evening chaos of cranky children and bedtime routines.
While the holiday season still flew by, the whirlwind seemed to dance around me and I never felt caught in it. I enjoyed the time with my family and friends, and when I exclaimed, “Happy New Year!” , my words were not followed by a heavy sigh.
I share this joy not to brag about inner peace, or to claim I have it all figured out, but to remind myself, and others, that the simple moments we choose for ourselves can impact an entire day, or season.
I know I’m not alone in my desire to live in the present and enjoy each moment. I want to hear from our readers! What are some ways you stay calm during the holidays and throughout the year? Deep Breathing? Meditation? Hot toddies? Please share a comment.