November and December can be magical. They can also be challenging. I love the delicious contrast between the chilly, dark, damp outdoor world, and the sparkly-cozy indoor world. I am excited to spend time with friends and family and enjoy holiday parties and treats. Sometimes, though, it can be overwhelming. The contrast between expectation and reality can be unsettling, and sometimes I feel pressured to celebrate, when I really prefer to hibernate. Sometimes keeping the balance very difficult.
As we move into winter and the holiday season, it’s important to be self-aware and self-caring. Here are a few ideas for self-care, that have worked for me. I have connected them to the 6 Pillars of Modo Yoga.
Be Healthy – A healthy practice leads to healthy choices for the mind, body and spirit.
Being healthy begins with hydration and nourishment. Simply drinking lots of water really helps me to feel good. I know that Toblerone is an official food group at Christmas, but, there are lots of wholesome seasonal choices that are equally delicious. Think about fresh pomegranate, delicious in-season grapefruits and oranges, and beautiful tummy-warming soups and stews. Maintaining healthy activity is also good: I keep to my yoga practice, even on busy days. An hour on the mat gives me the energy and courage to find more enjoyment that lasts through the day.
Be Accessible – Yoga is for everyone! All abilities, bodies, and backgrounds are welcome with open arms.
At this time of year, it’s easy to succumb to the idea that there are things I must do for the holidays. Decorating, baking, shopping, entertaining… I catch myself comparing my effort and experience to what other people are doing. Suddenly, I think I can’t live up to some arbitrary expectation. When I do that, I am forgetting to be kind and accepting to myself. Modo Yoga Burnaby is one of the places where I can let this feeling go. Inside the studio, it’s not about whether I’m “ready for Christmas,” (whatever that is anyway!) It’s a place where I can come as I am, and leave the comparing and judging at the door. Everybody breathes. I breathe. We breathe together in our practice. I remember, that is what’s important, and I can find myself grounded again.
Be Green – The care, respect, and protection of our planet is tied to our own well-being.
My heart leaps up when I am outdoors. Even on the most windy, rainy, mucky, westcoast December day, this place we live in is beautiful. Going for a walk or run outdoors reminds me that I am one tiny person on a big, magnificent planet. My senses reveal to me what’s really important, and my care and concern for the living world is renewed. Just an hour under the sky each day is the best thing I know for feeling well inside and out.
Be Community – We’re stronger together when we reach out and support one another.
I like to make sure everyone around me is OK. I look out for my family, friends, customers and co-workers at my job. Sometimes I forget to give myself the same caring concern. Fortunately, these same friends, family and others also have the capacity for caring. Lots of them are actively looking out for me, and I just need to pause and appreciate this. These people around me are available, if I want to talk something over, ask for help, or just hang out in that comfy companionable silence that feels so good at the beginning or end of a busy day. And when I am tough on myself, I can usually find someone who will remind me to be nicer to me. Sometimes the only thing I need to do is ask and be open to this support.
Live to Learn – To be anything – we must learn. Stay humble, curious, and passionate.
Learning can be an active and intentional pursuit, but it can also be very quiet and receptive. Listening to someone else’s story, observing activity in nature or in a crowded place can be very interesting and instructive. When I am feeling overwhelmed with the busy-ness of life, I love to hide out somewhere with a good book. (There are great books you can dive into at MYB!) I also love to go watch a movie all on my own. This down-time is relaxing and refreshing, and diverts my mind from stress-provoking thought patterns to ones of reflection and creativity.
Be Peace – We cultivate harmony – inside and worldwide.
I like to balance merriment with rest, socializing with quiet time. Although I’m mostly outgoing and gregarious, I have that inner introvert that needs nurturing on a regular basis. Sometimes the most loving thing I can do for myself is to stay home, stay quiet, and recharge. This might look like lounging in pajamas and watching an old movie. It might look like blasting tunes in the kitchen and cooking one of my favourite comfort foods. Sometimes it looks like sitting outdoors on my porch, under a big blanket, in the early morning, just watching the dawn, and the birds, and the squirrels, and listening to the sounds of the neighbourhood waking up. Inner harmony makes space for love for the greater world. After some introvert time, I feel more optimistic, generous and motivated to care for others. That’s a good feeling.
I hope that some of these thoughts are helpful to you, as you navigate the long nights and chilly days of November and December. Remember that MYB is open every day through the holiday season, offering a place of warmth and welcome to everyone. Take care of yourself, and I’ll see you in the hot room soon!