Tis the season of gift giving and receiving, though I’ll admit I finder it easier to give than receive. Perhaps that is the boondoggle of care-taking women, especially, at this yuletide season-to busy ourselves with finding just the right gifts and preparing just the right holiday meals and celebrations! This, of course, takes enormous energy, time and creative effort – all of which can both energize and take a toll on the mind and body all at once. How then, in the midst of all of these expectations, can we satisfy our desire to create lovely times and memories for others AND not fall apart doing it? How can we both have our Christmas cake and eat it too?
The answer, my friends, is blowing in the words “self-care!” In the midst of all of our holiday preparations, do we value ourselves enough to pay attention to what we need and want? Do we care enough about our bodies and our emotional well-being that we can stop periodically, check-in with body and soul to listen to what it’s asking of us at that moment?
This ability to STOP AND LISTEN is a deeply rooted form of self-care and goes beyond – though certainly includes – tuning in to what is enough sleep, a healthy diet and exercise for each of us. It may mean saying “no” to yet another holiday party, realizing that buying one more gift for each child/grandchild is really not needed, taking a few deep breaths and minutes for sitting still or simply laughing with ourselves when we realize we’re overdone on our self-imposed expectations. Extending kindness, compassion and forgiveness to ourselves when we do mess up is probably the greatest sign of caring for ourselves and nurturing of our well-being.
Long ago a wise teacher told me, “You cannot give what you do not have.” So how can I care for others without putting my own care first? Developing self -awareness and self-caring paradoxically leads to caring for BOTH ourselves AND for other people, creatures, and, yes, even the planet as a whole. It enhances our ability to respond with a warm heart to our own needs and desires as well as to all the rest in our orbit.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give ourselves and others in this season is to do less and enjoy more! Perhaps receiving attention from ourselves to ourselves – and allowing others to do for us too – is the best gift of all! So wrap that one up with a big red ribbon and give a hearty “ho, ho, ho!”