It’s that time of year again... The time that is the most wonderful (I know so because a song on the radio told me). Sleigh bells, Santa hats, unusually well-behaved children, and the faint scent of balsam and cedar looming in the air; ahh, it’s the holidays. And since you’ve learned to decompress from the holiday stress (ie. you’ve definitely read our blog post from December 10th), this means that you’re already prepared for your holiday shenanigans. Gift giving, party preparation, travel plans - everything is ready to go. You’ve made it.
So… what do you do now?
Plain and simple… Be a present.
No, I don’t need you to wrap yourself up in Christmas-esque wrapping paper like little miss Cindy Lou Who. Well, I mean, if you look really cute with bows and ribbons in your hair, then be my guest; but I was talking about a different kind of present. I would like you to be a…
Let’s be real for a moment. We live in a society that has a “GO ALL THE TIME” mentality. If we aren’t working 16-hour shifts, we aren’t doing enough. If we aren’t putting the weight of the world on our shoulders, then we clearly don’t want it [insert whatever “it” might be for you here] bad enough (I’ve noticed that one is pretty popular among coaches). If we aren’t first, we’re last. We can’t seem to ever catch a break because, for whatever reason, self-care has become the new selfish.
Because of this, I’m presenting you with a gift this holiday season. The gift of a new perspective. The gift that might’ve already been inside of you, but you were too overwhelmed to even realize it was already there. I’m gifting you the ability to relax, unwind, and exist in the present - after all, these holiday moments only come once a year, you wouldn’t want to miss them.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that there is a time for work, and there is a time for play. But I think the first part of becoming “a present,” is understanding the balance between the two. Look at your balance realistically; and ask yourself “Does my balance exist?” Honestly, does it? Don’t hide your answer behind the “I don’t have time” and “I’m just so busy” covers; hold yourself accountable and give yourself a genuine answer. Once you identify this, I want you to take the next step and ask, “How does my body feel when I nurture it?” This question is especially important, because this feeling will be unique to each person. Does your nurture leave you feeling extra relaxed-like you just crawled off of a massage table-or are you energized-like you just spent an afternoon catching up with an old friend? Answer this question ONLY using a single feeling word. Now, take it another step further and ask, “What does my nurture time look like?” Is your nurture time taken in isolation or does it comfort you to spend time with those who are closest to you? Is it a mellow activity like reading a book, or do you prefer expending all of your excess energy on a long run? Take the time to get to know yourself, and ask those three important questions; you might be surprised to find that they may even be hard to answer.
Just to be transparent, here is what my own answers look like:
#1. It’s not there yet.
#3. My nurture time is multi-dimensional. Depending on my mood, and the things contributing to the stress I feel, I will nurture myself in different ways. The top two: having a homemade dinner with my family (with no cell phones, computers, or connection to the outside world), or listening to Coldplay in my living room, appreciating a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline.
For those of you who maybe are having a hard time agreeing with this notion of nurture, let me present you with this undeniably logical fact. And since I dabble in some anatomy and physiology, of course I had to make this comparison related to the effects of weight training on the body. Let’s say you are interested in getting stronger, you know, putting on some muscle since it’s already 6 months away from beach season. You go to the gym, you pump some iron, and after you workout, your body undergoes a process in which it repairs and fortifies the muscles you just “ripped” (pun completely intended). For those unfamiliar with this process, your muscles literally rip due to the weight you have put on them in the workout. To fix the rips, your body fuses muscle fibers together to form muscle strands that were stronger than those there before. This repair and rebuild process can only occur so long as you give your body time to REST. The muscle growth doesn’t occur while you’re working out, it takes a combination of work and recovering from that work that you put it through. If the very existence of our body is a combination of work and rest; shouldn’t our behavior patterns trend the same?
So go forth with your new gift; challenge yourself to approach this holiday with a slightly different mindset, and if nothing else, remember…
Be a present.