Taking Time For Yourself: The Importance of Slowing Down During the Holidays

Recently, we talked about effective communication techniques with our partner during the holidays, including showing empathy and mutual respect. That article touched on honoring our individual selves, but I want to emphatically reiterate the invitation to slow down and take time for self during the holidays. Typically, we think of the holiday season as the time to be with our loved ones, whether that’s our partner, family, or friends. Even if those relationships are wonderful and healthy they demand energy, but if they are unhealthy in any way, they demand a great deal of energy. Either way, we can foster a peaceful holiday and give of ourselves more fully if we remember to take time for self.

Daily ritual has become an important theme in my life, thanks to all of the Glue couples that taught me the importance of slowing down and taking time every day. Taking time for myself is a daily practice, at the very least, I spend 10 minutes in the morning with myself, and before I look at my phone or email I simply sit with myself. Sometimes I do a formal meditation practice, but other times I simply sip on my tea and just “be.” It’s all about intention and bringing a level of simplicity to the chaos that surrounds us on any given day.

Mediation and Slowing Down
Taking time for yourself during the winter can bring unexpected warmth. Image from wikimedia.org

Our culture has turned the holiday season from one of being to one of doing. It’s a wonder we find any quality time with our loved ones with the traditional demands of shopping, cooking, gatherings, and decorations. Holidays can bring up a lot of expectation and a feeling of “keeping up with the Joneses,” both with yourself and your partner, and the focus can quickly turn from quality to quantity and an ever-growing to-do list and calendar.

Slowing Down and Lessening The Demands

Over the years I have lessened the demands that I place on myself, I no longer send holiday cards, nor do I bake cookies or attend a friend’s yearly cookie exchange. My list of gifts is minimal and meaningful. I don’t buy things simply to give more. Rather I focus on time. Time to slow down. The shortest day of the year is upon us, this is a time when our bodies want to rest and hibernate and eat and snuggle by the fire. Don’t fight that urge!

As much as I love my morning sitting practice, it is easy for me to forgo it when other people are around and I have a reason to stray from it. When family is in town for instance, I sometimes conveniently forget to meditate and instead spend the time immersed with family. But what ends up happening, is that by the end of the visit, when I haven’t taken that time for myself, I can feel the disconnect with myself and something reminiscent of irritation sneaks in.

For me, part of slowing down during the holidays is taking time to make things and tapping into a form of creativity that I might not explore in other times of the year, such as making earrings or a birdhouse. Those DIY gifts connect me to the minimalist and meaningful practice of gift giving, and allows me to spend that quality time with myself, which in turn allows me to show up more fully to those I love. If I allow myself to be swept away by the traditional demands and the chaos of the season, I will miss the most important aspect of the holiday—time with those I love, and that list should include myself.

This holiday season practice whatever activity it is that grounds you, this season of giving is exactly the time you need to give that gift to yourself.


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