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Taking time out for yourself during the holiday period

This page created 28 November 2011

By Anthony - ADAVIC Volunteer

The festive season, it’s enough to exacerbate anxiety in an artichoke.  Presents, tying up loose ends at work, family functions, doing the odd DIY job around the house, planning a holiday and what’s more; all that food, where is it going to go?  As far as I’m concerned, Christmas is just like a big hangover – every festive season I tell myself ‘I’m never doing that again’.  

Come this Christmas, you are likely to fall into one of two categories; 1 - you are an online subscriber to ‘’.  You have devised a list of people you must purchase a gift for, you have kept an eye on specific items all year and as they go on sale, you have swooped.  Item-by-item, your collaged collection of presents have systematically accumulated all year and you have  completed your Christmas shopping (or did you never stop?).  However, if you are anything like me, you fall in the second  category – you are destined to wind up on Christmas-eve at Chadstone shopping centre at around midnight.  Elbowing through the masses, your pockets will be over-flowing with hand-written lists spilling out as you curse the pyjama-clad teens running around not buying anything.  

It’s all just a little stressful, isn’t it?  Next thing you know, it’ll be 2012!  You’ll be back at work, exhausted from your holiday, have a half-finished veranda, patched up an argument you had with that family member you never really liked and carrying an extra 8 kilos from food you didn’t want to eat in the first place.  What happened to the books you wanted to read?  The cricket you wanted to watch?  And what happened to sipping margaritas lying in the sun naked on your backyard lawn?    

So I am going to try and change tact this festive season.  I have worked hard this year.  I am not in the financial position to climb in to a private jet and order my pilot to take me to Haiti.  But dammit, I want a holiday!

A mentor of mine is famous for saying - ‘I have planned nothing in my life, and that has kept me very busy’.  I think this is what can happen over the festive season. Tired of routine and managing time for work / studies / families etc. throughout the year, it’s tempting to neglect planning how you are going to rest over the festive season.  So this year, I’m taking my holiday seriously and plan to rejuvenate myself.  

Here’s how I’m going to do it…

The Sun

I think I remember what it looks like, but I’m not sure.  It’s bright, but it isn’t a computer screen because I remember my skin really liking it.  I am going to revel in wearing shorts and bright colours and singlets and sandals and sunglasses and I am going to inhale sun-screen every chance I get, even if it’s on a stranger.  

I have fixed my bicycle so I can stay out of the car this holiday season and breathe in the summer goodness.  

I have sent out an email to all my friends saying that during the month of December, I will be stationed at a particular spot at the Botanical gardens every Friday afternoon from 4:30, armed with a picnic rug, bocce, second-hand board-games, a deck of cards, my harp and some munchies.  See you there.

The Body

I am going to attend 2 yoga sessions a week.  I find yoga such a good way to re-balance my breath and (hence) my mind.  It restores parity or propels some sort of psychological equilibrium.  I haven’t figured it out yet, all I know is that I walk out of the yoga studio with a much quieter mind than when I walked in.

I am also going to loosen the reigns on my eating diet and permit myself to enjoy some festive food.  One piece of cake will not send my body into fatty-turmoil…  And do I really need to attend the gym 5 sessions per week?  I think 3 will be just fine.

The Technology

Does any one else sometimes look at their phone and wonder, ‘who is in charge here’?  I find myself sitting on the computer and I don’t even know what I’m doing there.  Why at 2am, am I combing through the classified Guantanamo-bay prisoner-dossiers of Chad on Wikileaks?  I am turning the mobile phone off at nights and not turning it back on until after breakfast *GASP* (sorry mum).  I am going to read for half an hour every morning as soon as I wake up.  I will also only restrict myself to one hour of computer time per day.  

It’s not much, but it’s a start.  I am aiming for balance this festive season.  I know what I want to get out of it, and I think I have a plan of how I’m going to do it.  It’s easy for us to be seduced by the holiday season mentality and not actually organise how we are going to use that time to relax.  The answer of course, is balancing the two.  Here is a little story (paraphrased from Paolo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’) which I think captures the above rather neatly.  

A little boy goes to the palatial house of a wise woman who is known to possess the secrets of happiness.  He asks the woman to teach him how to obtain and maintain happiness.  The woman gives him a teaspoon with three drops of oil and tells him to walk all about her mansion house without spilling any of the oil. The boy walks and walks, all around the great house and returns with the oil in the teaspoon. The woman says, ‘very good, but did you see the enormous embroideries on my walls? Did you see the beauty of my rich garden, my marble halls and fountains?’  The boy says no. So she tells him to go back and have a look. The boy returns, and says he saw some beautiful, awe inspiring things.  The lady says, ‘very good, but where are my drops of oil’? The boy looks at the spoon, and finds it empty. The secret to happiness she says, is to be able to do both at the same time.

I’m planning on having a festive season full of rejuvenation and self-care.  It’s going to take a bit of work and planning, but I think I’ll pull through.  

Happy days…

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