The holiday season is upon us. And for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, nature is going into its dormant phase. Many of the trees are dropping their leaves and plants are pulling their energy inward and underground. When I walk out in my garden, it’s still. I find it so comforting to have this space where quietude is the natural way of things.
Contrast that scene with our human norms during this time of year. For most people, it’s BUSTLING. Stores are blaring nostalgic holiday music while proffering subliminal cues to hurry up and buy your holiday gifts. Companies are frenzied to make their end-of year financial goals. Families and friends are making plans to visit and celebrate. Social calendars are booking up.
And while our human ways can feel productive and celebratory at holiday time, it’s also quite exhausting for most people. Wayne Muller, in his book called Sabbath: Restoring The Sacred Rhythm of Rest, puts it this way:
Our relentless emphasis on success and productivity has become a form of violence. We have lost the necessary rhythm of life, the balance between effort and rest, doing and not doing. Constantly striving, we feel exhausted and deprived in the midst of great abundance, longing for time with friends and family, longing for a moment to ourselves.
Not to mention that we are running COUNTER to the slower rhythms of nature at this time of year. Winter is meant of be a time of REST!
“Rest” is a word many seem to have forgotten in our fast-paced Western Culture. So many of us are moving and lightning speed and multi-tasking our way through each day. We are doing MORE with LESS support. And many of us are quite exhausted.
In nature, we watch the seasons change outside. And every farmer knows that a recipe for getting an abundant crop is to leave the fields fallow for a period of time. But it’s not that nothing is happening during these fallow periods. The soil is regenerating and the nutrients are rebuilding. The plants are restoring their internal infrastructure with root systems that are expanding beneath the ground. Without this fallow time, nature could not come out in her full splendor in the Spring—with flowers ablaze.
Humans aren’t so different. We also need deep times of stillness, rest, and “down time.” But our culture doesn’t really celebrate it. With only 2 weeks of vacation a year at most jobs, there’s time for little more than a few family visits or a quick vacation.
So we keep pushing. And many women, including me, have ended-up with adrenal burnout—which has currently reached epidemic proportions. I remember reading an article that stated that approximately 80% of people today will experience adrenal fatigue in their lifetime. That’s quite a large figure, implying that this syndrome will impact most of us at some point.
So if you want to sustain yourself for the long run, deep rest truly must be a part of the equation. This is not selfish behavior; instead, it is absolutely REQUIRED for folks who are offering so much of ourselves into the world.
So here are a few suggested ways to nurture yourself at this time of year. Treat it as a holiday gift to key holiday gifts to YOURSELF. If you fill up your own cup so that you are vibrant and radiant, your abundance will overflow into those around you as well.
Devaa’s Top 10 Tips For Holiday Self-Nurturance
- Sleep a lot. I highly recommend averaging 9-10 hours of sleep per night—at least for a little while. Try it for a few days. You will thank me later!
- Get regular bodywork. I encourage this to NOT just be a special occasion, but part of your regular self-care routine.
- Take a day of Sabbath. When I say “Sabbath,” I mean a day with no plans, no “home projects,” no laundry. Just a day where you get to do whatever would bring you the greatest joy or satisfaction in the moment. Yoga class? Spontaneous hike? Read a book? If you have kids, you may need to drop them at a friend’s house for the day to make it possible. And you can reciprocate the favor the next week. I encourage this as a weekly practice, or at least every other week. For more on this topic, check out this book I mentioned above called Sabbath by Wayne Muller.
- Uplift your frequency with essential oils. We all want to smell divine. And in addition to their gorgeous scent, essential oils actually lift your vibratory frequency. One of my favorites is a blend of rose and sandalwood from Amma, the hugging saint from India. It’s available at her shop for $35 and makes a great holiday gift too. Get it here: http://www.theammashop.org/complete-body/
- Expand in front of the fire. Let yourself just lay on the floor in front of a cozy fire with a lot of pillows and some blankets. This can be a great opportunity to expand your consciousness and engage your intuition. One beautiful practice is using the flames for “scrying.” Essentially, you would ask deep soul questions into the fire, then watch for the shapes and images that appear in the flames. You can then interpret those images as answers to the questions posed—a beautiful collaboration between you and the greater Spirit of life.
- Try a weekly yin yoga class at a local studio. For those not familiar with Yin Yoga, It’s more like doing some long, slow stretches using lots of props and support. Yin yoga will help you truly enter the chill zone!
- Support your spirit with flower essences. These remedies primarily work on your energetic body, and tose who are energetically sensitive will especially notice the effects. For years I’ve been using a popular blend called “Rescue Remedy” made by Bach. But I’ve also started using their Olive Flower, which is said to be good for when you feel overwhelmed (like during holiday time!). You can get both online at Amazon and other retailers.
- Take long baths. After a stressful day, my favorite activity is a long bath with candle light and some mellow music (I often listen to my own Sacred Alchemy Album). I have been using Epson salts in my bath for years, and they are great. But after a class with the Mayan Grandmother Flordemayo, she suggested adding healing herbs to the bath—like Rosemary—which is readily available. But you could use other healing herbs that are local to your environment too. Let yourself soak for a while—at least 30 minutes.
- Enjoy a coconut treatment. After that long bath I mentioned above, try topping it off with an aromatic layer of coconut oil—straight out of the food pantry! It’s especially nice if you take time to apply it slowly to your body, imagining you are sending love to every part of your body as you apply the oil. This oil will leave your skin feeling so soft and supple, and it can be used at night in your hair—if it’s dry or color treated. It’s also an amazing (and inexpensive) personal lubricant. And it smells and tastes great. You can get it at most any health food store. Mmmm…
- Celebrate the Solstice on December 22nd. Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. It’s a time to celebrate the darkness and its stillness, while celebrating our connection to the Earth and the return of the light. On this night we have an opportunity to name and release those situations or patterns that are ready to be “lost into the night.” We have an opportunity to symbolically die and reborn.
I hope these suggestions help you make this holiday season as relaxing and soul-nourishing as possible. Enjoy!