Last week I spent an hour with my calendar–not penciling things in, but revisiting pending events and making intentional choices that support a more open, spacious, restorative winter schedule.
Does the thought of returning presents and attending holiday gatherings make you want to grab your sherpa blanket and run for the nearest cave?
It would be an understatement to say this year has been emotionally intense. In addition to the chaos we’ve all been experiencing on a macro-level, most of us have felt over-scheduled, overworked and unable to unplug. Many of us have navigated big career and life challenges—and we’ve had little time to integrate these changes. Frankly, we’re exhausted. We’re ready for rest. Not a relaxed evening by the fire, but a serious stretch of lazy days, long naps, walks in the woods, deep nourishing slumber and joyful, easy, simple connections with friends and family that feed us emotionally and spiritually. What we most need in the coming weeks is permission to rest, relax, unplug and do nothing (consider gifting yourself a download of my Still, Dark & Quiet: Deep Rest Retreat).
However, with all the family expectations, activity and invitations that come with this season knocking on our door—what are we to do? I challenge you to take the road less traveled and take a radical stand for what you most need this week (and beyond). Consider the following five ideas to help you do less:
- Schedule down time now. Block out periods on your calendar during December and January for “dedicated relaxation,” where your only job is to unplug from electronics and rest. Schedule half-days, full days, weekends or an entire week if you can swing it. Maybe you’ll feel like a nature hike when your period for renewal rolls around or maybe you’re better served by staying in your pajamas, turning off your phone, sipping on hot tea and watching the leaves (or snow) fall from the trees. Make downtime a priority and schedule this now so you can honor your commitment to deep to-the-bones self-renewal.
- Just say no. Decide what’s most important to you and let everything else go. If it’s not an “absolute yes,” then it’s a no. Don’t want to miss Aunt Tracy’s special New Year’s Eve dinner, but feel exhausted at the thought of attending your neighbor’s neighborhood block party? Just say no and let it go. You’ll be glad you did. The opportunity will come back around next year. Our quality of life is always enhanced when we let go of things-not when we add them. Check out my popular 9 Ways to Say No list from my pioneering self-care primer, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life.
- Ask for help. Give yourself permission to ask for and receive help, whether it’s cooking, socializing or hosting family. Do it different. Be willing to let go of tradition for the sake of enhanced emotional well-being. Step out of your comfort zone, reach out to friends, neighbors and coworkers and ask for their help during the holidays so you can create more space for yourself and your family to just “be.” What are three things on your plate right now that you could delegate, outsource or ask for support around?
- 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 and cram too much into our schedules and then try to control everything we’re juggling. My colleague, author Joan Borysenko says, “Your to-do list is immortal; it will live on long after you’re dead.” How can you simplify your plans (do you really need to go see the Christmas lights in the next town over, make your mom’s famous cranberry bread and host your company’s New Year’s dinner)? Popcorn, hot cider and an evening of great conversation with people who let you show up “warts and all,” is hard to beat. Do less, so you can experience more.
- Unplug and spend time in nature. My colleague/friend Richard Louv author of the Nature Principle says, “Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract the burnout and sort of depression that we feel when we sit in front of a computer all day.” I call nature the ultimate antidepressant and re-set button. If anyone in my family is exhausted or out of sorts, off to the greenbelt we go. Often during December, my family unplugs completely and heads to the Davis Mountains in West Texas to enjoy some of the darkest night skies in the world. Being in nature offers us nourishment and renewal on all levels-physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. It is a powerful, restorative and healing force. Tap it!
There is an innate push and pull that many of us feel during the winter/holiday season. When we pause and tune in to the natural 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. (Think of our friends the bears, they’ve got it right!) Counter this with the world around us that is swirling madly with activity and constantly telling us to do, eat, buy and be more. It can feel quite confusing, exhausting and overwhelming.
I challenge you: do it differently this week. 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 for your family. Then, you can flow—instead of crawl–into 2023 present, refreshed and clear on how you want to use your energy in the New Year.
JOIN ME VIRTUALLY + IN-PERSON FOR AN UPCOMING SELF-RENEWAL EXPERIENCE:
- **Available for a limited time; download today.** Still, Dark & Quiet: A Deep Rest Virtual Retreat. A delicious winter retreat to enjoy 24/7 from your home (recorded on the Winter Solstice). Enjoy Yoga Nidra deep relaxation, poetry, song & stillness; $49. Learn more/register.
- *NEW* Live in Western NC? Feb–April (dates TBA)~ Sovereignty: A Women’s Mastermind Group (in-person) for women leaders, teachers, healers, creatives and small business owners. Six Thursday evenings. Brevard, NC. Email info at reneetrudeau dot com to receive a pre-invite; only two spots left. Learn more.
- Jan. 27 – 29th ~ **Almost full!** Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, my fav retreat center (don’t delay; this deeply replenishing, meditative winter retreat always sells out). I’ll be back at Kripalu leading this retreat April 14-16 and Oct. 13-15! Learn more.
- Wild Souls Nature Adventures (based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC): authentic movement classes, community song circles, full moon hikes, meditation workshops, women’s circles and more. New offerings are listed each week; have me design a custom experience for your team or friends. Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating high-impact interactive workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Yoga Journal, AARP Magazine, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 450 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.