By Renée Trudeau
Last week I spent an hour with my calendar, not penciling things in, but revisiting pending events and making choices that support a more spacious, restorative winter schedule.
This year has been emotionally intense. In addition to the chaos we’re all experiencing on a macro-level, we’ve felt overwhelmed and unable to unplug. Many of us are navigating big life transitions—and we’ve had little time to digest and integrate these changes. We’re ready for a serious stretch of long naps, walks in the woods and joyful, simple connections with others that feed us emotionally and spiritually. What we most need is permission to relax and do nothing. (Consider a download of my Still, Dark & Quiet: Deep Rest Retreat).
However, with the expectations, activities and invitations that come with this season, what are we to do? I challenge you to take a radical stand for what you most need this month.
• Schedule down time now. Block out periods on your calendar during December for “dedicated relaxation,” where your only job is to unplug and recharge. Schedule half-days, full days, weekends or an entire week if you can. You might take a meandering hike, stay in pajamas all day, set aside your phone for hours or sip hot tea and watch the winter landscape.
• Just say no. Decide what’s important to you and let everything else go. If it’s not an “absolute yes,” then it’s a no. Feel exhausted at the thought of attending your neighbor’s cookie exchange? Let it go. Quality of life is always enhanced when, rather than adding things, we let some go.
• Ask for help. Permission granted to ask for and receive help, whether cooking, socializing or hosting family. Be willing to forego tradition for the sake of enhanced emotional well-being. Step out of your comfort zone, reach out to others and ask for help in order to create more space for everyone to just be.
• Do less to experience more. Positive psychology researchers say we’re happiest when we keep things simple and have fewer choices. We create stress when we try to cram too much into our schedules and control everything. Author Joan Borysenko says, “Your to-do list is immortal; it will live on long after you’re dead.” How can you simplify? Do you really need to go see Christmas lights in the next town over, make mom’s cranberry bread and host your company’s New Year’s dinner? Popcorn, hot cider and an evening of conversation with heart-minded friends is hard to beat.
• Unplug and spend time in nature. My friend Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle, says, “Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract burnout and depression.” If anyone in my family is out of sorts, off to the forest we go. Being outside offers nourishment and renewal on all levels—physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. It is a powerful, restorative and healing force.
There is an innate push and pull that many of us feel during the winter/holiday season. The world around us swirls madly with activity and constantly tells us to do, eat, buy and be more. When we pause and tune in to the cycles of nature—and our bodies—we hear the call to slow down, go inward and contemplate where we’ve been and where we want to go.
What do you most need to replenish and restore? If the call to make rest and renewal a priority resonates, make this number one for yourself and your family. Then, you can flow—instead of crawl—into 2024: present, refreshed and clear on how to use your energy in the New Year.
Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally known author/speaker and retreat facilitator. Based in Brevard, she leads weekly Wild Souls Authentic Movement and women’s circles/retreats and helps people find balance through the art/science of self-care. Join her January 19-21 at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health for Sing, Dance, Pray ~ Romancing the Beloved. Learn more at ReneeTrudeau.com.