(These are expanded thoughts from an Instagram post in August, 2015.)
Sometimes signs are literally right in front of us...but do we see them?
I snapped this photo at the end of Old Guslander Trail. I was trying to fit my run in between "waves" of kids -- two just heading to High School and Junior High while child number three was still sleeping.
The run, was an all-out-sprint! Not....(breathe).... fun!
This "sign" stopped me in my tracks. Instead of flying by it to make my half-way point, I just "listened" and stopped. I stretched. I took time to see and smell and feel my run. The gravel was dark and moist and the grass bright green from the dew. Max, my trusted running buddy, was soggy and wet and smelled of wet dog. The pine trees were potent too. My legs ached, but in a pretty good way, and I could feel my sweat starting to dry as the warm wind hit my skin.
I wrote in my Instagram post, "Run REAL! Don't just endure your runs." (ugh, the sound of that word, endure, exhausts me just writing it!)
That day, I decided to shorten my run so it would stop stressing me out. I snapped this photo, turned around, and headed home. My day was so much better, thanks to the sign, and thanks to my noticing it!
Today, almost mid-December, I just felt this post was so relevant on so many levels to we women, we Hashimamas.
Are you just enduring December?
Are you noticing the signs of holiday burnout? Kids are starting to get sick, you're feeling a cold coming on. The family is sleeping through morning alarms, meals are neglected, tempers are shorter as the darkness grows longer.
Hey, I'm not calling anyone out here. I'm describing MY home, MY kids, MY temper. And, I'm giving you space to see that if this is you, you are NOT the only one sister! December can be beautiful and magical and lovely, but it can also be stressful and tearful and I just want you to stop for a minute and see the signs. If you are seeing the signs I described above, or the multitude of others, just stop.
Breathe some more.
Now, smile...C'mon you can do this...lift the corners of your mouth...there you go.
Here are some tips to make things a little easier. They are so simple I know you might even think, "Too simple to try,".
SIGNS OF DECEMBER BURNOUT
(yup that's it)
1. BREATHE: Set a Breath Check alarm.
I wrote about this in my newsletter. I set my phone to vibrate every two hours on the quarter hour. Every time I feel or hear the vibration, I stop and breathe.
Three BIG belly breaths. Nobody else will notice, but your body will.
According to Ayurveda, breath is a carrier of Prana, the Energy, that gives life to your body. Doesn't that sound beautiful? When we are stressed how do we breathe? Short, fast, small, chest breaths. Whether you believe in Ayurveda or not, we know the more oxygen we take in with deep breaths, our energy increases.
Additionally, slower, deeper breaths remove your body and mind from the anxious, high adrenal state, and move you into a parsympathetic state where your body can heal and repair.
So, set your Breath Checks! Your little ones will love it and do it with you. Your teens will laugh, snap a photo of your phone, and Snapchat it to their friends. But it's all worth it.
Part One: Your Body
Ok, this is not the time to discuss cleansing or perfect eating. I never recommend perfection, ever. And, cleansing can be stressful. So just think nourishment. How?
Think plants. Think bright colors. In stressful times, think easy. Smoothies, soups, and Grab-n-go!
Do yourself and your family a load of good and be sure to keep LOTS of fruits and veggies on hand. It seems like a no-brainer, but even I forget this one. We eat what we have on-hand, right? So make it easy and fill the fruit bowl, pre-shop those veggies, pack a car-cooler for the car-poolers.
I know it's the season of desserts and candy...which makes it even more important to have the good stuff on-hand. That sweet stuff is making us all nuts, so make the December house rule,
"Plants Before Pantry!"
Nobody gets any food with a wrapper until they've had a fruit or veggie first. Gottit?
(And, as an aside, can I address fruit please? I know I know, fruit is fructose is sugar. Some of us get all up in arms about fruit, limiting it because of the sugars. I had a child once tell me on a field trip that my banana was unhealthy because of the sugar. ??? Yet, she was eating a bag of Jerky -- which, in itself wouldn't be an unhealthy choice, but her particular brand was filled with preservatives, GMO corn fillers, soy and sodium and most likely not made from grass-fed beef. My point is, eat fruit. It's whole, it's real, it's filled with nutrients and fiber, it's easy and it's going to feed your brain much better than a high protein granola bar or fake jerky. Rant over!)
Part Two: Your SOUL
It's the holiday season, so you're thinking you get enough religion, right?
Wellllll, I'm not talking about religion. Nope, not at all. I'm thinking about YOU, sister. Your essence, your soul, your YOU.
These times are not like the others, am I right?
Yes you have your job, outside the home or inside; you have kids' schedules; you have household tasks like cooking and laundry (please teach your teens to do laundry! It has saved MY sanity!); you have in-laws, and spouses or exes, and volunteering, and working out BUT on top of all that, this month everything is heightened. Nothing is normal.
My god it's a wonder we survive it at all. And, some of us don't. Or, we just make it look like we did. (Cue the Christmas cards reminder!)***
Here's the thing. Are you paying attention to the signs?
Is your skin dry and cracking? Is your brow in a continual furrow? Check your shoulders...are they raised toward your ears? Bring them down...there you go! Does your head hurt? Is your belly disgruntled? What about your heart? Does it ache?
Do you know the saying "you can't be very giving if you aren't willing to receive"? It's something like that. The gist is, when you spend all your time giving, but you don't allow yourself to receive, your giving is no longer real. It becomes forced. It's loaded with bad energy, stressed ju-ju.
Even if you swear and promise this is NOT how you give, fine, I believe you. But still, I will not allow you to finish December without some soul nourishment. Here are some ideas.
Pray -- I don't mean in a religious way if you are not of that mindset. I mean, say a prayer of thanks. To whomever. To your god or to the universe, or to yourself.
How about that? Appreciate yourself. You are glorious, did you know that?
When? Whenever you are feeling the signs. Temper rising, heart racing, head hurting -- say a prayer of thanks. Don't get pissy with me about it. Just do it. Trust me.
Bathe -- Notice I didn't say, "Take a bath."? Bathing implies intention, mindfulness, ease, slow, peace. Bathe in the tub or the shower, just take the time to relax, feel the warmth of the water, use beautiful products (I use Beautycounter). Dry brush. Moisturize. Inhale. Exhale. You deserve this.
How do you make time? Like I said, you can bathe standing up. Just make your shower time a little bit longer or slower or more intentional. Typically, this is alone time, right? So take clear advantage of it and allow it to center you.
Eat -- Refer to Part One, above. Don't even try to tell me food has nothing to do with how you think and feel. We will one day have a much longer discussion about this if necessary. Food has EVERYTHING to do with your thoughts and emotions. It's all intertwined. Trust me.
Love -- I'm beginning to see a reference to the book we know and love.
It's true though. Nourish your soul by loving YOU. If none of the above float your boat, find something that will. Read, dance, run, do yoga, meet friends for an easy lunch, paint, decorate (not for others but for YOU), walk in the snow, hike the hills, pet your dog, call your funny friend. Take a moment to decide something new each day or choose to do the same thing all month long. Set the intention. Nourish you. Put YOU on the calendar. One little thing for you. Daily. Trust me.
We all know the signs of illness. We all know the signs of stress. We all know the signs of "this is just too much and I am going to crash and burn!". But are we paying attention?
I'll be posting soon about a great way to gracefully release this year and usher in the next. But until then, we have another half-month to go. Follow the TWO steps I gave you above. Simple, sweet.
Soon, the only signs you will need to pay attention to are the signs of peace and joy and beautiful.
*** Just sayin', don't let Christmas Card Envy stress you out. I no longer do and it's wonderful. One year nothing went out. Last year, I sent a New Year's card...on February 14th! If you can get them done and they are beautiful and real, wonderful! Congratulations! Truly! If not, don't sweat it. Everyone who loves you will understand and everyone else? Just....breathe!