As Christmas approaches, we may find that even in a pandemic, and even for some who are possibly going to be spending Christmas day alone, that we still have ‘to do’ lists.
It’s important that despite the things we want to try to ‘fit in’ to make the most of our time (or just to keep on top of our daily lives) that we also find some ‘down time’ to rest and play. For some of you who like that greater sense of control, perhaps it is actually something to include on your ‘to do’ list. lol 🙂
What I’m saying is that it’s important to rest, to play, to take time out and to not feel bad about it. The shortest day has passed and now, daylight hours for most of us will begin to lengthen. We will be looking forwards to Christmas in a few days, which may be a quieter or more solitary experience this year for many, and then we will approach new year 2021.
These collective events and experiences always intrigue me as there is something of the ‘collective consciousness’ about them. That is to say, unlike in times in our own personal life journey’s when there may be a significant event, date or change point, due to how much of the world lives according to the Gregorian calendar, we share these experiences, even if our individual lives differ significantly from one another.
Come the new year, like it or not, we will be out of ‘holiday mode’ and even if not much else changes, we will have to consider things like how to move forwards with jobs, living situations perhaps and other things related to our own change points and also to changing regulations related to the pandemic.
So use some of this time, without guilt, to relax, rest and play. It’s important for your wellbeing, as long as what you choose to do is actually good for you or restful, so choose wisely.
What do you like to do in your ‘down time’? Do you watch films, play games, go for a walk outside if possible, paint, draw, listen to music, chat to a friend, curl up and read a book or simply lounge about for a while?
I hope you find the chance to catch your breath, to rest, and to look forward in Advent to the True Light of Christmas.
I’ve touched upon aspects of self care and wellbeing in previous sections of this guide, including eating and sleeping well, taking walks, looking after your mental health and including exercise into your routine, and making sure that you have enough supplies for your health conditions such as medicines.
However, it’s a good idea to remember to look at your health and wellbeing in a holistic way and to think of what the main things that might affect you could be.
As we near the end of November, I’ve noticed a few things in my own life, so I thought I’d share them with you.
Firstly, I feel like hibernating. I’ve noticed that my body, mind and mood are being affected with this wintery season. It gets darker a lot quicker, light levels are lower, and there is a drop in temperature. I feel like with the natural cycle of the seasons, my body too is winding down and preparing for rest. Actually, if I didn’t have to work I’d probably be napping during the day like a curled up little hedgehog! 🙂 I’ve given out a lot of good advice such as maintaining exercise and healthy eating habits, and getting enough rest and sleep as well as staying active, but when it comes to it although I have been trying to do these things I am feeling a little sluggish and looking forward to not having to do very much.
Secondly, the desire for hibernation is coupled with a season of activity – which may not be such a bad thing, but it also means having to be realistic about what I can actually manage, and to pace myself. I’m blessed to have friends to meet and events to attend and things to prepare for, but it’s not always easy to ‘keep up’. As our bodies are perhaps slowing down and preparing for a time of rest we seem to try to pack in as much festivities as we can, and on the one hand that’s a good thing in making sure we don’t end up in a ‘slump’ hiding away from the world and perhaps giving in to low moods, but on the other hand it also means that we don’t have endless amounts of energy and so to stay well we need to pace ourselves and to be wise and selective in how we use our time as well as caring for our bodies and not over indulging.
Thirdly, it is the season for coughs, colds, sore throats and infections! And it’s hard to avoid these altogether, but it is something we can try to prepare for in advance.
So, what are the takeaways or key points that you can glean from all of this?
Accept that your body may react to the changing of the seasons by naturally slowing down, and that this may leave you feeling a little sluggish, tired or lethargic.
Pace yourself and try to maintain as much balance as possible between rest and play.
Listen to your body, and if you can slow down and wind up on big work projects, pace yourself with social events, don’t overpromise or overcommit to doing things, be flexible, be kind to yourself and manage the expectations of yourself and others and prepare a winter survival kit for coughs, colds, and also for any other important aspects of your life and safety. You might want to also have a winter survival kit in your car just in case of emergencies!
In summary, be realistic and take it easy. There may be a good reason that nature slows down at wintertime and it may be good for us to do so too.
In previous posts in this Winter Survival Guide I suggested trying to on the one hand say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, and also to know when it is best for you to say ‘no’ to things that other people ask you to do, and to have the confidence to do that where appropriate.
However, what if youwant to say yes to so many things, many or most of which might be your own suggestions for yourself? What if you actually need to say ‘no’ to you?! 🙂
Maybe you’re in tip top health, are feeling vibrant, exuberant and want to ‘do it all’ and ‘tick off’ as many suggestions on your ‘bucket list’ as possible this season. Or maybe like me you’ve previously gone through long drawn out seasons of poorer health and haven’t been able to do much at all, and you want a season of contrast to your hard times, and to ‘make the most of it’ now that you are feeling better than before and heading in the right direction.
Whatever the case may be for you in your particular circumstances, and whether the ‘invitations’ to do things are coming from yourself and / or others, it is important to take a breath and remind yourself that you can’t do it all. Now, I’m not wanting to put a dampener on the proceedings, or take the fun from your party, and I’m certainly not saying that you and I aren’t capable and shouldn’t be making the most of things. What I am saying though is that none of us were designed to be full steam ahead all of the time without a break, and if in your excitement you over-plan to do things, or over-commit to what you want to be involved with, then at some stage you are going to hit a proverbial brick wall and come to an unwanted halt.
Even the fiercest ‘go getters’ among you need to recharge every now and then, so don’t try to do it all, or if you do, give yourself space to be able to reorganise, reschedule, change your mind and allow yourself to say no to your original plans in such a way that you won’t be letting yourself or anyone else down. Basically be flexible and don’t wear yourself into the ground by trying to be ‘superman’ / ‘superwoman’.
Sometimes Less is More:
As excited as you might be to cram it all in to this wonderful season, sometimes less truly is more. By being more selective in how you use your time, you will be able to deepen the quality of your experiences and get so much more out of them in a more meaningful way. It’s the difference between seeing all the bright lights everywhere and taking time to focus on the flickering flame of a candle in a dark room – there is a different internal response and experience from both exciting and meditative experiences and we need a balance of both in our lives.
Give yourself permission to enjoy the simple things, get rid of the ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out) and enjoy the beauty of this season without overstretching yourself or trying to do it all. Don’t overfill your calendar! After all, after the excitement has passed you will want to be rested, refreshed and ready to head into a brand New Year!
It’s 12th November 2019 as I write this. We’ve already heard it so many times now: “I can’t believe it’s November already!”. People tend to say things like this a lot, commenting on ‘how fast’ the year has flown in. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose, but we’re undeniably bedded in now in the latter part of the calendar year, and before we know it people will be saying “I can’t believe it’s 2020!”.
This means that ‘before we know it’ we’ll be in the midst of the Christmas, festive, holiday, New Year (and other, depending on what this time of year means to you) season.
It’s a good ‘survival’ tip to plan ahead a bit so that things don’t unexpectedly creep up on you and you find that anxiety is knocking on the door of your heart.
Let me break this down a little, just to give us all a bit of perspective, and help us to visually see what and where we might gain from a little bit of forward planning. Keeping it simple, here is a visual representation of the next few weeks ahead:
Tues: 12th November (today), 19th, 26th
Wed: 13th Nov, 20th, 27th
Thur: 14th Nov, 21st, 28th
Fri: 15th Nov, 22nd, 29th
Sat: 16th Nov, 23rd, 30th.
Sun: 17th Nov, 24th
Mon: 18th Nov, 25th
Sun: 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th
Mon: 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th
Tue: 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st
Wed: 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th
Thur: 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th
Fri: 6th, 13th, 20th , 27th
Sat: 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th
Maybe you float through your days, and planning isn’t much of a priority, but personally as someone who has anxiety (and who also incidentally can be a bit forgetful), planning is pretty essential for me, and I like to break things down into smaller more manageable ‘chunks’. Together with the fact that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I like to make the most of the time I have and to do things well, and encourage other people, so that’s another reason I need a bit of an idea of what’s ahead of me, and what I need and want to do, as well as how this fits in with the needs and expectations of others, and my general obligations.
I’m not sure what the next few weeks ahead look like for you, but here are some of the things that I personally will need to factor in and begin thinking about and preparing for:
Finish up work projects (I’m usually ahead of schedule as I am just now, so I can relax with this one, considering nothing new or major lands on my plate) and tie up any loose ends before the office closes for Christmas.
Complete my personal work review which is just something I do for myself and is not a requirement, as it helps me to see just how much I have been involved with, what I have learned, and how to go forwards. Sometimes we fail to realise or appreciate just how much we have accomplished in a year, and it’s good to review that at the end of the year.
Support colleagues / team with anything we collaboratively need to accomplish / tie up.
Take annual leave that I have remaining from mid-December.
End of November, early Christmas work lunch out with colleagues.
Mini reunion with friends visiting from another part of the country, but just for the day.
Christmas dinner out (mid December) with a couple of close friends.
Catch-ups, exchanging gifts and doing some fun Christmassy things with various friends before we head our separate ways for the holidays.
Plan and carry out some acts of kindness to help those less fortunate, and encourage others with ways we can all help.
Personal Devotions, Church and Fellowship:
Only six more Sundays before Christmas, so it would be nice to spend some time in advance really preparing myself spiritually, thanking God and reflecting upon the year gone by, and prayerfully looking at what is ahead. The Centre of Christmas and of Life for me Is Christ, so it is important that He Is my Focus throughout this whole season, filled as it is with distractions aplenty.
Connect with friends, encourage others who are struggling this season, and participate in the many beautiful events celebrating Christ, as He leads me.
Prepare for Birthdays, Christmas Presents, gifts for God-children, friends’ kids, and prepare / recycle things to create Environmentally Friendly Packaging:
Pack and plan for a short holiday to see Christmas markets in Europe – finances, clothes, etc. all to be prepared.
Hospitality and Home:
Decorate, have people over for festive fun.
Pack and prepare for visiting family.
Reach out to support friends who are grieving or struggling this year.
Other bits and bobs: plan some crafts, use up coupons before their expiry dates, send things in the post on time, and create a photo book of memories for 2019.
Welcome to all of my new followers, and thank you to those who have been with me for a while for continuing to drop by.
I just thought I’d mention that I’ve added a few new ‘widgets’ that you can find on the Right Hand Side of my blog to make it easier to navigate (it took me long enough to figure out where to find these add on features, I know!) – calendar, monthly blog archives, and a drop down menu of categories which supplements my main menu at the top of the page.
So, I hope you are able to find something you enjoy reading from the many topics that I write about.