Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-harrison/take-care-of-your-self-th_b_6289754.html

By Stephanie Harrison http://www.twitter.com/cultivace

The holiday season is one of love, connection and giving. In the best case scenario, we meaningfully bond with our families and friends, cook delicious food, share experiences and talk about what we wish for in the coming year. Too often, the best intentions dissolve into a period of anxiety and stress, leaving us too tired to give love and compassion to ourselves.A few year ago, I was hosting a holiday party where I felt very unappreciated. I was running around getting everything organized and cleaning up after people, while they were sitting around having fun. I worked myself up, telling myself that no one noticed what I did, everyone was ungrateful, and I would never host a party again. The conversation I was having in my head ruined my whole evening. If I had been in a better place, I might have reacted in a different way. I might have looked at the situation with more love, politely asked for help, or expressed my feelings in a healthy manner.

This year, I have committed to a new approach to the holiday season. Let this be the year that we take care of our loved ones, including ourselves in that group, and learn how by tending to our own light, we will light up the world around us.

There is only one constant in your life, from the time that you arrive to the time that you leave – your self. You are the only person on your journey. People, jobs and homes all come and go, but you will remain. As you experience changes and new situations, you make millions of choices about how you react, how you move forward and what you choose to take away from your experiences. As the only person who makes these choices, I am fully responsible for being in the best of physical, spiritual and emotional health.

Ever since my wake-up call, self-care has been one of my most important values. I often notice that when I don’t take care of my self, every other area of my life takes a hit. It’s easy to feel that self-care shouldn’t be a priority, that it is selfish, or that it isn’t meaningful. If you choose to dip your toe into this practice, I hope that you experience what I have: taking care of yourself is one of the most important practices that can be implemented in a person’s life, and it will transform you and the world around you.

If you wish that the world had more love, connection and giving, start with bringing those things into your own life. Your light connects beyond you, to the universal energy of our world. The poet Kabir said “All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.” The holidays are a wonderful time to connect with the ocean, but we first have to recognize that the drop is worthy of our attention.

If you’re thinking you’d like to practice cultivating your own light, how do you begin? Personally, I define self-care as giving myself permission to do anything that is focused on strengthening my light. There is no one answer for what self-care can look like. It’s highly personal to what you need at this moment in time. It can be as simple as having a good night’s sleep or saying the word ‘no’ out loud. I call mine my “happiness routines” and I rely on them to feel strong, happy and fulfilled.

If you’re looking for inspiration on some self-care habits that you can cultivate, I’ve shared a few of my own below. Choose what feels right to you. What habits do you want to cultivate in your own life?

  • Practice gratitude
  • Meditate
  • Yoga asanas
  • Exercise
  • Get 8 hours of sleep per night
  • Tell someone that I love them
  • Practice creative expression
  • Practice authenticity
  • Practice vulnerability

You have all of the answers about what you need right now, within you, that will help you to nurture yourself. To access that information, tune in to your inner self. When you have arrived, ask yourself what you need, right now, at this moment.

Some helpful questions that you can ask yourself include:

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • Where do I feel stress, pain or sadness right now?
  • What is my body telling me that I need?
  • What would actively strengthen my physical, emotional and spiritual health?

You will start to feel out the answers that are right for you. As ideas or opportunities come to you, act upon them and note how you feel before, during and after. Cultivating your light is a constant process and an ongoing dialogue between you and your body. When you practice self-care, you are really practicing self-compassion. As you offer compassion to yourself, you can offer compassion to others.

During the holidays, we are so quick to give our time and energy that we can end up feeling completely depleted afterwards. As you go through this holiday season, take the time each day to check in with your light. Have you done something for yourself today? One strategy that helps me is using my technology to keep me mindful. I set twice-daily alarms on my calendar to take a deep breathe, check in with how I am feeling and what I might need.

Self-care brings me great peace and joy, which in turn allows me to bring peace and joy to the world around me. It is empowering to be able to make small daily choices that have positive ripple effects through my life. This holiday season, how will you strengthen your light and use it to illuminate the world around you?

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