With Christmas just two days away and the New Year around the corner, we find ourselves in the familiarly strange “holiday” week. Most of us love this time of year – hours spent with family, plenty of great food and social events, gift-giving and cozy nights by the fire, you name it. We should all cherish every minute of these enjoyable activities.
However, this week also comes with some stress. Whether we are aware of it or not, constant cycles of planning, cleaning, traveling, mingling, eating, drinking, repeat take their toll. Before we know it, we could be sleeping poorly, feeling bloated or fatigued, irritated and just off in general. For many, these feelings lead to some ambitious New Year Resolutions: weight loss, lifestyle overhaul, relationship exploration, new business, etc.
While setting goals for yourself is certainly worthwhile and healthy, using more ambition to tackle feelings of stress, anxiety, burnout and fatigue is not. If left unaddressed, stress can manifest itself in various forms: illness, sleep disturbances, weight gain, irritability and a decline in heart health.
This holiday, I challenge you to try a new approach: do nothing. I know this probably is scary to even think about for a lot of you — how do you do nothing at such a busy, magical time such as this? And why? First off, let’s start with why.
We are absolutely mentally overwhelmed by endless digital and physical stimuli every minute of every day. When you are in line at the grocery store, I bet you are tempted to scroll through your phone. At a red light, you maybe want to quick send a text or check your work email. If you sit down on the couch with family, you’re all likely looking at the TV. On a run with the dog, you may be tempted to catch up on a podcast. While the convenience of our phones and electronics and email inboxes is great for a lot of things, it really prevents us from recharging our mental and emotional batteries.
Our brains and bodies need rest. I bet that sounds wonderful to think about; after a long day of getting your kids from A to B, taking work calls, cleaning and preparing for house guests or traveling to a faraway relative’s, you probably want to ONLY rest. But that’s just it: it sounds lovely until you sit down to actually rest. In that moment, your brain wants to do anything besides rest. The dishes are waiting, your phone is beeping, the dryer just finished its cycle. So, instead of resting, you go do those things so you can rest “later.”
The issue with putting of rest, however, is that your stresses continue to stack up. You then are caught in the cycle of promising that you will set loftier goals for yourself next year or next week. Rest is actually very achievable; we just have to reset our mindset that “it’s okay to not be productive” for a short time each day.
Here’s what you can do to start your resting routine: choose the same time each day to take a moment to yourself. Whether you take five minutes or an hour, it is up to you. During this time, don’t give in and reach for your phone, turn on the TV or tidy up your house. Go for a walk in silence, sit and stretch, and allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts.
Breathe slowly and deeply, and let your subconscious unfold. Our minds are powerful but they require rest and time to process information. This is why you will sometimes come up with your best ideas doing something completely mindless, like taking a shower!
It will be difficult at first, but I promise that if you devote time to a moment of rest and subconscious relaxation each day, your holiday will be all the merrier.
Best of Health,