Archive for September, 2003
“To allow oneself to be carried away
by a multitude of conflicting concerns,
To surrender to too many demands,
To commit oneself to too many projects,
To want to help everyone with everything
Is to succumb to violence.”
— Thomas Merton
Fall is arriving, and soon to follow comes the holiday season. This is a time of year that brings with it extremes. There are occasions for celebration, but also added busyness of preparation and events. Some people become filled with a sense of obligation to meet the expectations that may surround the holidays, related to friends and family. Other people become faced with a sense of loneliness and wanting, perhaps missing a loved one with whom to share the celebrations.
In either case, it is a time of year in which our energy often goes out to other people and events in our lives. With so much energy focuses outward, we can become depleted, stressed, and even depressed. Instead of enjoying the spirit of the holidays, we can become resentful, rundown, and look forward to them being over.
Self-care, although essential to our well-being throughout the year, can be especially important during the holiday season. The reality is that it is unlikely for us to be able to give to others or participate fully in celebratory events if we are feeling empty.
Self-care begins with the basics. None of this is likely news to you but it may serve as a helpful reminder nonetheless:
6 or more hours of sleep each night (depending on the individual) can help to keep you alert, your mood up, your irritability down and your immune system functioning well. (Sobel and Ornstein, The Healthy Mind Healthy Body, 1996, Patient Education Media, Inc.: New York)
Maintaining a balanced diet of food is not just about your weight and body image. The quality and quantity of food you take in also has an impact on your ability to function most effectively, including your mood, your self-esteem, your energy level, and your immune system.
Exercise helps to improve your mood, lessening anxiety, depression, and stress. It can also boost optimism, self-esteem, confidence, and give you a greater sense of control. Physical activity can be a healthful coping strategy because it can also strengthen your immune system. (Sobel and Ornstein, 1996)
“Relaxation doesn’t always require twenty minutes of meditation or muscle relaxation, as useful though they may be. Look for quick and easy opportunities in your everyday life to rapidly relax and refresh yourself.” “Take advantage of the attainable pleasures in life whenever you can—good films, baseball games, autumn foliage, sunsets. Indulging in personal pleasures does a lot to keep you relaxed, happy and healthy.” (p. 88, Sobel and Ornstein, 1996)
The bottom line is that even though the holiday season may bring up events that revolve around giving your energy and attention to others, if you start with yourself you may actually have something left to give them. According to the Buddha,
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”