“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” — Max Ehrmann, writer
My running buddies and I, after numerous failed attempts to coordinate schedules, were finally able to get together for a long walk right before Christmas. We were in total agreement that this particular Christmas season has been more stressful than most. Although we couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. For me, in addition to the holiday hubbub, it has felt like the collective stress of the year has piled up and left me sort of…depleted. So as 2015 comes to a close, rather than crawl to finish line, I’m following some advice from an Elephant Journal article called “Ten Profound Things That Help Me Reconnect With Joy When I’m Burned Out and Uninspired” (link here). A new year is filled with hope and opportunities to make life better. I’m looking forward to easing into 2016 with a more peaceful, rejuvenated spirit.
Here’s an abbreviated version of Elephant Journal’s tips — and my progress so far:
1.) Community. Hanging out with friends helps us feel better. Spending time with actual human beings boosts our mood. It energizes us, even if it’s people we don’t really know, at the local café. Sharing smiles with people gives us a lasting warm fuzzy. Progress: Christmas time spent with family. Nothing like my Tribe.
2.) Take breaks. No one can thrive when we’re sitting at the computer for hours on end, all day long. Take a five minute break every hour. Progress: Taking some time off from work is my break. No computer time beyond blogging.
3.) Get enough fresh air and sunshine. This is important, especially in the wintertime. Spending time outside breaks up the monotony and reconnects us to nature. Progress: With the exception of a Christmas Eve walk with my buddies*, torrential rains and flooding has kept everybody indoors. But outdoor time is on the agenda for this week!
*Christmas tree lots make me so sad right before the holiday. I want to adopt all of the misfit trees.
4.) Eat food cooked with love. Make sure to eat enough veggies. Eat real food and avoid processed and packaged food. Progress: My mom’s breakfast casserole on Christmas. ‘Nuff said.
5.) Meditate. Practice sitting meditation every day for at least 10 minutes. If you’re too busy, meditate for one hour. Our minds are made for thinking. Consciously taking a break from our thoughts heals stress on many levels. Progress: Trying to pick an app to help me get started.
6.) Exercise. Our bodies are made to move. People have a lot of energy and sitting still for too long can drive us stir crazy. Exercise, even a little bit, is important everyday. It releases negativity and makes us feel good. Progress: See #3.
7.) House plants. It’s nice to share space with other living things. House plants are natural air filters. They bring relaxing and cheerful energy to a room. Progress: Check. Above is my Mom’s little plant. I have two of its cousins in my kitchen – and lots of extended family around the house.
8.) Stretch. A good stretch can give us the “space” we need to buckle down and take care of our responsibilities. Progress: Dug out my yoga DVDs.
9.) Get enough sleep. Progress: Always seems to be a problem, but working on it.
10.) Laugh. Progress: See #1. Never a problem. Especially when my Superhero nephew brings his Minion to the party.
So this list seems like a good, gentle place to start.
I have a few other things I want to do to help put fuel back in the tank before looking to the upcoming year: a little cleaning, a little reflecting, a little resting with the softest blanket on the planet, a little quiet, and (hopefully) a lot of peace.