Thursday, November 29, 2012

Decadent/Detox/Dreaded/Delightful December

Oh, December.  You're not even here yet and you're already stressing me out.

There's the usual insane glut of holiday parties, December babies having birthday parties (including not only me but my fiance - born two days after me!), amazing movies and shows opening, and of course, the holidays.  Whichever holiday you celebrate, and whether you're traveling or staying home, the anxiety and pressure to crank out a zillion Christmas cards or buy the perfect gift without breaking your bank is enough to make you forget the point of the holidays in the first place.

Alongside all of these lovely problems to have, I've also got a wedding dress to squeeze into the day after Christmas for a fitting (and did I mention I'll be having Christmas dinner with my butter-and-bacon-lovin' southern Grandma who cooks like nobody's business?) and my cousin's wedding to attend on the 29th.  And my own wedding that I honestly haven't really done a thing to plan for in the last couple of months that edges closer every day.

My goal is to have this month be more about detoxing than decadence, more about delight than dread.

We'll see how it works out...but here are a couple of things I hope to employ to help me survive the month.  Each and every one will be a challenge!

1. Saucha

A niyama meaning purity or cleanliness, this is how I'm hopefully going to avoid the ever-present decadent temptations of the season.  December is probably the most ridiculous time to start counting calories and expect to lose weight...but I think it's an interesting challenge.  This principle can apply to external - our homes, our clothes, our skin - or it can apply to the internal.

Along with invoking this principle to choose to stick to just one glass of wine or pass up the amazing free cake, it's also something you can apply mentally and emotionally.  Purify your internal state before bed to get a better night's sleep - a few minutes of stretching, reading, or just not texting can do wonders for your quality of rest, helping you avoid burnout.

2. Aparigraha

A yama meaning non-hoarding or abundance, this can help stave off the inevitable materialism of this month.  Giving and getting gifts is exciting and fabulous, but is it me or has Black Friday and everything it represents gotten beyond ridiculous?  A hand written card is always, always going to mean more than a new gadget.  Not that you can't want or buy the gadget, but just keep in mind - we all already have everything we really need.  Everything else is just cake.

3. Santosha

A niyama meaning contentment, this is a really important one to remember once you get into the groove of constantly having to answer the question of what you want for the holidays.  You can get locked into the loop of constantly looking to the external world for your needs met - once you start to make a list, it's hard to stop (for me, anyway!).  Even if it feels a bit false at first, practice being content with where you are, what you have, and who you are.

4. This!  A must read for introverts or anyone who finds themselves feeling burned out by the holiday party circuit.

5. Prioritizing - and Letting Go

Some things are inevitably going to fall by the wayside.  Writing this blog, keeping up with my budget, and cleaning my floors are three things that are really important to me that I do every week (which I'm aware makes me sound like the most boring person ever) and it's often a challenge to find the time.  There are going to be weeks that one or all three might just not happen - and I'm resolving to recognize that 9 times out of 10, it's for a damn good reason, like a birthday party or extra work opportunity (everyone loves holiday yoga).  What am I going to remember a month from now - vacuuming or a friend's Christmas party?  If you're somewhat type A, this is probably the most important tip.  Prioritize what's iron-clad important, and sacrifice an opportunity to go out or a particular shopping trip to get it done.  If it's not top on the priority list...let it go.

6. Do Less

If you're overwhelmed, take something off the table.  Whether it be declining a party invite, slacking a bit on chores, or passing on a workout in favor of restorative rest, it's okay to create some space to breathe.


As I said, all of this will be a challenge and is much easier said than done.  Despite all my high minded ideas and yogic principles, I get stressed out very, very easily, so I'll be referring back to this list quite a bit this month.  It's already been helping me this week - I hope it can help you too!

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