Holiday is defined as a time of rest and celebration. But as a weaver who spent many holiday seasons weaving scarves, jackets, and shawls from morning ’til night, day after day, often right up until Christmas Eve to fill orders from craft galleries around the countr, my holiday seasons were crazy, tiring, and extremely stressful. Every year, I promised myself to do things differently the next holiday season. Sound familiar?Why is it that we insist on ramping up the stress in our lives by struggling to hold on to each and every tradition of the past, adding the tasks of holiday meal planning and preparation, the special cleaning and decorating of our homes, and the buying and wrapping of gifts while maintaining our current high-demand schedules? Oh, and don’t forget volunteering to bake something for the church bazaar, office party or school event.In all this doing for others, do we ever take time out for ourselves? We tell ourselves we can’t afford to, we won’t get everything done. In fact, we can’t afford not to.
After all, if we give all of our time and energy away to others without time for ourselves, soon our holidays of love and light become holidays of resentment and exhaustion instead. How many times, really, do we want to drag ourselves to bed at one o’clock because we need to wrap one more present, address one more card?We know that stress and fatigue make us vulnerable to being sick. Yet how often have we come down with a cold or the flu just before or just after the holidays because we once again insisted on doing everything, running ourselves ragged as a result?This year, try these seven easy things to do to take time for yourself to regenerate those holiday batteries, so if we, like that well-known bunny, must keep going and going, at least we can do it rested, refreshed, and with a genuine smile on our face and in our hearts.1. Put yourself first on the priority list on a daily basis and schedule in time for exercise, reading, a nap, or just sitting with your feet up and your favorite cup of tea or coffee. Even better, sit in silence for at least ten minutes to allow the body and mind to unwind. Silence, though hard to achieve in our culture, is healing.2. Define what activity or experience creates that sense of holiday for you – not others, you – whether it is time with family and friends, preparing gourmet meals, dressing up and attending parties, or going shopping in the midst of the bustle and music of the holiday. By making that activity a priority, then you will feel you had a holiday instead of just another stress-filled season.3. Reevaluate holiday traditions and expectations, alone or with the family. Do you really need to make ten different types of cookies or will two or three of the family favorites do just as well? Can you pay a few extra dollars to have your gifts wrapped by a charitable organization, supporting them while helping yourself?4. Decide before the holidays, which one or two events or organizations that you want to support or volunteer for that are important and that you can do with joy. Then say no to other requests without guilt, knowing this makes space for others to offer gifts of service as well.
5. Ask for help–from children, from spouse, from friends. The sharing of preparation, like children helping with the cookie baking, can become an important part of the celebration.6. Reward yourself at the end of the holiday season with time away, such as a weekend at a local bed and breakfast, or at home for a day or two with the phone, computer, and TV turned off. Savor the silence and stillness after the noise and bustle of the season. Take time to journal about what worked for you this holiday and what you want to change for the next.7. Whenever you get caught up in the demands of the holiday, stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “Is this really necessary? Whose celebration of the holiday will suffer if I don’t do this?”This holiday season, weave in time to rest and celebrate. And have a genuine Happy Holiday!© 2006 Paula Chaffee Scardamalia
Time and space, silence and solitude, dreams, making mistakes, and endings and beginnings are some of the topics covered in Weaving a Woman’s Life: Spiritual Lessons from the Loom, published this spring and a USABookNews .com Best Books of 2006 Award Finalist. It makes a great gift for the women in your life Paula is an author, speaker, and coach who shows entrepreneurial and executive wives and mothers how to weave the life of their dreams one thread, one choice at a time. For a free half hour consult, visit [web: weavingthedream .com] and mention this article.