Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

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My husband Dave often reminds me that I am the worst Buddhist he knows, meaning I rarely “slow down” and have only one speed: super fast. He sometimes jokes that he would give me a hug if only he could catch me (our house is not that big, I am just running in small circles rushing to get stuff done based on my self-imposed to-do list and internal imaginary stopwatch).

I have a love-hate relationship with December. Love this month because of the amazing shared expectation by all that we will rejoice, there will be social gatherings, work parties, celebrations with colleagues and family, buying and receiving of gifts, music, family traditions, baking, eating baked goods, time off of school and work, hot chocolate, snow for those who are lucky, movies, Christmas movies, the Elf, all activities if you have young children, and new this year for us, sitting together to watch Hallmark Christmas movies and make fun of them.

Hate is a strong word. Maybe STRONG dislike. The reason I have conflicting feelings all month and resentment every December, is that it’s perhaps the busiest month for surgeons and especially pediatric ENTs. Most families’ deductible is paid, and kids are off of school and parents have time off so everyone wants their surgeries and tonsils done before December 31st. A busy work schedule leaves little time to actually plan presents in a thoughtful manner, ENJOY shopping, so one is equally tired when finally home at night.

The pressure mounts day after day as I think about not only who I have not finished preparing a gift for, all the while thinking about whether it’s really okay not to insist we bake cookies and impose special activities on ourselves. With more occasions that require dressing up and looking nice, yet the numbers on the scale go up since eating Thanksgiving pie and don't decrease well after you have stopped eating the pies and sweets.

In my mind, I fantasize about taking an entire month off, so that I can play tennis daily, slim down for the holiday parties, wander around the mall and shop as if it’s fun (would not know how that feels, shopping has always been time pressured). Online shopping is not my strength but I am working on it. Taking my daughter Claire to holiday shows.

In spite of all that, this NYT article by Haemin Sunim reminded me that, because of the self imposed and culturally imposed activities, all the more reason I need to remember to breathe, be still, and focus on self-care first and foremost. 
  • Breathe: we need it to live anyways—breathe well, live well!
  • Accept: because this is how we rid all anger, frustration and achieve calm and peace.
  • Write: it’s how we learn about ourselves, manage emotions and thoughts, and grow. And because I love writing.
  • Talk: I will try to speak less and listen with a smile. I will speak with loving compassion.
  • Walk: because my dog Shiro and I LOVE walking and my health depends on it.

I hope you will enjoy the article! At the very least, I take comfort in ensuring my walking routine still occurs this month and tennis still will be scheduled as if my life depends on it.


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