“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is a much heard refrain going into the Christmas Season… and I tend to agree. I love the festive holiday season… But this isn’t everyone’s experience. For some, the holidays can be sad reminders of days gone by or missed loved ones. For many of us, it can trigger stress as our perfectionistic tendencies come to the surface in our attempts to find the perfect gift or create a memorable holiday experience through hosting that decorated and catered holiday party.
When our minds are consumed with planning get togethers with family, present lists and creating a pleasing holiday dish, we can often forget the priority of self-care. Some of us keep the term “self-care” sacred to us while others are unfamiliar with it. Self-care isn’t just important for your health mentally and physically… it also affects those around you (for better or worse). When society tells us it’s that time of year to start giving back (something I try to do all year-long) and spreading holiday cheer, that can be increasingly challenging if you don’t have the energy, are stressed out or feeling depressed; All things “self-care” can help you if you’re eating right, getting enough sleep, living an active lifestyle and finding ways to “unplug” and cope with the things that create stress in your life.
Self-care needs to be an essential part of your daily routine because not only will you feel better and think clearer, you first need to have the resources and energy available when wanting to offer or give back.
The term “self-care” has been commercialized in the form of expensive green juices, yoga wear and gym memberships, when really it is your own, individual way of enhancing your overall well-being. Individuals like myself who don’t necessarily enjoy working out, can only settle for exercise alternatives if it is enjoyable and rewarding at the same time. This is how my own self-care regime came about; early morning wake ups for brisk bicycle rides with a friend of mine.
I started cycling in high-school as my primary mode of transportation. Then got into Mt. biking in my twenties, having built up my own bike frame up using a hard-tail Cannondale CAD 3 frame. Riding that bike was great and a lot of fun... until some A-hole cut the cable and stole it in the middle of the night from the side of our West Seattle house :( Moving on from that incident, I just recently invested in a Trek Crossrip 3 “cross bike”. My-oh-my has bicycle technology come a long ways in the last couple of decades! This bike actually makes rides fun and relatively effortless... until I have to go up a hill.
Last month, after having gone on a few bike rides with a friend of mine, looping around West Seattle and remember how frequently I used to ride, when I was invited on a 40 mile ride with some more experienced riders, I thought to myself "I got this". Against my better judgement (and my wife's caution), I went for it. As my wife accurately predicted, it did in fact destroy me. I felt completely drained about half-way through the ride, somewhere on Capitol Hill (we started on the South end of West Seattle). Fortunately, we stopped for espresso and pastries while the riders I was with gave me some supportive words. Note to self... get acclimated to longer rides before trying to hang with the big boys (and girls) ;-)
Despite my exhausting attempt of overachieving, bicycling has been a healthy way for me to get outside, get a good workout and enjoy the company of my friends. From finding this balance of mental and physical activity and enjoyment, I have cultivated my own self-care regime.
As 2018 comes near to its end, what are you doing to create better "self-care" routines?
Working out regularly, keeping a consistent sleep schedule or personal learning through reading the stack of books that seems to keep growing (or maybe that's just me). All of these are key to development for being your best self and having more to give to other. So maybe this coming holiday season, we can modify our thoughts of “I need to buy or do this” to “how can I be my best self to positively serve others?”