Whether you celebrate the holidays or simply try to make it through them, there are ways to make this busy time better. It is easy to overextend ourselves in trying to do it all. We can get caught up in what others are doing and compare our lives to theirs especially on social media. This is like going into your neighbor’s house putting on their clothes and shoes then walking around and wondering why you are so uncomfortable. Make your life yours, curate it with what drives you, your aesthetic, your interests, and if you have a family let everyone bring their full selves to the table as well. Create your own rituals and focus on celebrating the good stuff however small. Reward comes when we dive deep into Celebrating life, using the tool of Play then Rest, this cycle is reparative. Most of all keep it simple, joy is not bought it is uncovered from deep inside and bubbles out given the opportunity.
Celebrate has become a dirty word in some circles. It has become an event, an extravaganza or branding. WTF no, no that is not celebrating that is marketing. Celebrating is being grateful for a moment and taking in all the goodness. That can be a small win, a success, the happy pause between smelling the first cup of coffee and that sip. A good life allows for that pause and a small celebration of something good. Life can be filled with celebrating things like a new job, or holding a plank for 30 seconds, a rough draft of a story, the first snow day. Celebrate something you did that was scary and faced anyway. Appreciate your work, your action despite the fear. Celebrate being alive, the journey of your wild and weird little path that landed you wherever you are and the adventure of wherever you choose to go next.
How to celebrate is personal, it could be a nap, it could be opening a nice bottle of wine you have been saving. Celebrating can be done solo, in groups, or with someone special. It just means noticing the good stuff, the risks taken, and taking a pause and appreciating how you got there or even the happenstance of something random and wonderful that occurred. Make it yours and build celebrations into your life with rituals, in remembering what you have done and your hard work. Celebrating invites us to savor our lives in the moment. Slow down, pause, feel good and deepening that feeling.
Play is an integral part of a well lived life. My friends tease me that I have a PhD in play. What does that mean? It means that wherever I am, whoever I am with I am interested in having fun, exploring, laughing, trying something new. I am a curious girl by nature and that opens the door to what if…and play. I think when folks grow into adults they forget to play and how good play feels as it grounds and balances us. Play is also important for brain function, allowing abstract connections to be made and explored, giving way to creative problem solving. It creates a space for action, physical movement, artistic expression and more. Play invites us to explore, to take a break and take advantage of unstructured time. It is about injecting pleasure, adventure, connection with others and self in a way that informs us about the world and ourselves.
Play is the tool of learning, of releasing stress, building new things in our lives, it invites in freedom to explore the uncharted parts of our beliefs and fully extend ourselves in ways we don’t think about daily and should. What does that mean? It means that we can become robots in getting ready, going to work, acting appropriately in each social interaction. Our thinking becomes systematic in routines and we are lulled into going through the actions and not being fully present. Injecting play is about paying attention to what is happening in the moment, like improv and building on it. It is about being present, open and playful to what can happen. There should be play time built into every day but especially the holiday season where we are more apt to jump off our daily grind of the gerbil wheel. Break out, find a partner in crime and do something fun, something you enjoyed as a kid, something you have always wanted to do or just look for opportunities to take the lighter, laughter filled road.
The act of Resting is shamed in our culture. We celebrate people who sleep four hours a night for being efficient when biologically that is a very bad thing to do. Sleep is important for the human body to rejuvenate, to process, to rebuild, refresh and prepare for the next day. Rest is not always sleep, it can also look like being still, watching the birds out the window or the fire in the woodstove. Rest can be journaling, reading a book, it can be snuggling up and watching a comfort movie with someone who loves it like you do. Rest too, like Play, should have less structure to it. Less “have to’s” or rules. It helps to realize that Rest is not lazy, nor is self-care, selfish. Simply put Rest is part of maintenance for our mind, body and spirit. Like winter‘s role in the seasons, we too have cycles for growth, promoting balance and rest is one of them.
Holidays have expectations that are unrealistic, crazy hard and include things we don’t always want to do. Building some Rest between events and socializing can enhance the pleasure of the times we are with people. Having that Rest, a break, a pause to enjoy will help us maintain some balance in what might be otherwise incredibly hectic and stressful. Remember it is your holiday too and No is a complete sentence. Practice saying, things like “thank you for thinking of me”, “let me check my schedule and I will let you know tomorrow morning”. Sleep on it and then decide if you can add the obligation and enjoy it or will it stress you out. Then answer appropriately based on how you feel. Build Rest into the schedule literally, put it down on your google calendar, or however you track your days. It is easier to defend it then to squeeze it in later when you are spent and there are no more hours left for you.
These things Celebrating, Playing and Resting are where we create the life we love and need. They are important components along with creating, pushing past fear, achieving, caretaking, showing up…. Balance comes when you add all this together and recognize the value of each one as the care and maintenance of being a healthy, happy human. Taking the time to care for yourself and others in celebration, in play and in rest is a deep way to connect. Remember to step back, be thoughtful and present in a time that has a reputation for us bustling about to our determent. Build into your holidays and days to come with the practice of making time to celebrate, to play and to rest and of course repeat.