Ten Days of Self Care: The Holiday Countdown
I am one of those people that still has a printed calendar. There's something about having the whole month there in front of me in black and white, ready to be scribbled on with my handy pencil that helps me feel a little more in control (an illusion really but one I like all the same). I cross the days off as they pass with a feeling of accomplishment...until December. Suddenly that daily ritual of crossing off the days becomes a little stressful. There is a mental and physical countdown underway and instead of feeling more in control as the time passes I feel less so and I know I am not the only one; the stress of the holiday season is real and it's widespread. On this year of all years, more stress is not something we need. I invite you to join me for the next ten days for a little bit of self care each day. I will have a suggestion or two to follow if you choose or you can simply come visit, have a read and take the time to close your eyes and breathe. Sometimes we just need a reminder, sometimes we need to feel like we have permission to stop for a moment, so here are both: pause and breathe, give yourself permission to be still.
Day One Suggestion: Challenge the Idea of Perfection
For some reason the holiday season brings out the perfectionist tendencies in a lot of us, and perfectionism is its own stress. Instead of stressing about the angle of the tree, the place mats coordinating with the napkins or whatever it is that your brain keeps insisting upon looping back to, try taking a time-out for some self-affirmation. You are enough, exactly as you are right this very moment.
Step 1: Find a comfortable seated position. It might be on the floor or in a chair with both feet planted on the floor. Wiggle a bit until your seat is comfortable and bring your attention to your spine. Imagine there is a string that is attached to the crown of your head and imagine you are gently pulling upward on that string. With your spine lovely and long, rest one or both hands on your belly, right below the belly button. Inhale through your nose and send your breath deep into your belly, feeling your belly rise to your hands. Exhale through your mouth in a long sigh and feel your belly compress and fall. Your breath should be smooth: you don't need to forcefully pull air in or force it out. You don't need to pause or hold your breath at the top or the bottom. Just in and out. Breathe this way for three full rounds (a round is one full inhale and one full exhale). Resume your normal breathing rhythm.
Step 2: If you feel comfortable doing so, allow your eyes to slowly close and move back into the breathing of step one, breathing smoothly, sending air into the belly, feeling your belly rise to your hands. As you inhale, try saying to yourself, "I am enough." On the exhale try adding, "exactly as I am." Inhale, "I am enough." Exhale, "exactly as I am." Repeat for at least five rounds of breath then resume normal breathing for a few rounds, sitting quietly. Then repeat the exercise. Aim to go fully through step two at least three times but listen to your body. If you are feeling challenged by breathing deeply this way for five rounds, do less. If you feel that one repetition is all you can do today, you know you best.
Step 3: Resume your normal rhythm of breathing and sit for a moment. Remind yourself that going forward, when you feel that pull towards thinking, "it has to be perfect," you can choose to address that thought by saying to yourself, "I am enough, exactly as I am."
And you know what? You really are.