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Christmas is an amazing, magical time of the year, when happy music is blaring in all the stores and…it’s cloudy and cold, and you are running out of present ideas and money, and life can be a bit…overwhelming.
Maybe you’re picking up extra hours at work or taking up a seasonal job to help pay for bills and gifts. Maybe you are taking care of babies and they absolutely refuse to be calm and healthy for more than two seconds. Maybe you’re at the end of the semester and trying desperately to raise your grades. Maybe… you are looking for a little peace and comfort in the midst of pressure from work, from family, from life. I sure am.
When life is a bit much, I look for any possible way to come home.
Now, home is not the place where I grew up, my room, or any physical place. Home is where I feel safe, at peace, comforted, cared for. It is familiar faces, familiar books, movies, shows, songs, smells, that inspire, assure, and bring back good memories.
The Christmas spirit is said to be something along the lines of “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And while I very much believe in giving, I believe you cannot give when you are empty. You have to feed and nurture your soul and rest your spirit before you can give. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to be refreshed, sometimes it takes weeks. If you take the time to care for yourself, I can assure you that the holidays will be easier and you will require less recovery time!!!
My favorite ways to come home are:
Re-reading old favorites.
About a week ago, I was tired and drained beyond belief and was searching my bookshelves for something to center me, something to carry me away to a place I dearly loved. I found the perfect book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (This is one my favorite copies of it.). I ran a great big bubble bath and settled into the hot, steamy depths to enjoy it. I LAUGHED SO HARD! It is so ridiculously adorable, and innocent and pure. It was a nice break from the intensity of adult life!
Running a big bath.
Long, hot baths have been my go-to refresher for a long time. Bath time is a big production for me! I like to bring in entertainment – a book, my laptop/tablet (Netflix in the bathtub is AMAZING!), or at least some music. Good smells are important, too – I love to light a candle or use a richly scented bubble bath. Speaking of bubbles…have you heard about bath bombs?
All my thoughts and excitement about bath bombs:
I thought bath bombs were only available through Lush, which is, of course, on the expensive side (around $7 per bomb). Finally, a few months ago, I discovered that they are available all over the place! You can find some killer deals on Amazon, but let me advise you: when you find a good deal, buy it right then and there!!! These things are selling like hotcakes, and the prices have fluctuated on me when I have waited. My current favorite is this set of 10 large bath bombs! If you have sensitive skin or prefer a more natural approach, you can also easily find them made with essential oils and organic ingredients. ALWAYS look at the size (measured in ounces) to see how much you are getting for your money. Sizes range from around 2 oz to 4.5. (Even larger ones are available, but get too pricey for my taste.)
I take a big bath at least once a week, and it always does me so much good! Many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy have been enjoyed from the comfort of my tub. If you are pregnant, be careful about how hot you run your water – it can be unsafe for your baby if you take a very hot bath. Read more here.
Watch your favorite TV shows/movies.
I try to gauge how much I am emotionally up to…let me explain: most days, when I am worn and need something comforting, I am not up for something like Titanic. Rather, I need something like Cinderella or The Emperor’s New Groove or maybe even The Big Bang Theory. (In case you can’t tell, I gravitate towards animated Disney movies on particularly hard days!) Look for something that makes you feel safe and comforted. There is plenty of time to see the edgy, exciting stuff when you are recharged. And if your relaxing show is The Walking Dead or Daredevil, more power to you! Listen to your soul and see what it needs.
Spend time with someone you love.
Christmas is a time where we usually spend a lot of time with relatives and loved ones. When you’re looking to be rejuvenated, you’ve got to be a little picky and set aside time with one or two people who have NO EXPECTATIONS of you. You will be spending plenty of time with family and friends who will ask you what you are doing with your life and how many children you plan to have, and what you cooked for dinner last night. While these people love us very much and hope for the best for us, their questions can drain us and/or make us feel defensive, like we have to convince them that we are hardworking and smart and good cooks. (Am I the only one this happens to? I doubt it.)
Take some time to be with a friend who you can share your heart with. Some of the most refreshing moments of my life have been spent drinking coffee with my friend Rachel, where I can say whatever I need to (i.e.: I hate my job, I’m depressed, somehow I racked up $500 on my credit card and now I feel like a terrible person, etc.) and know I will not be judged. Find those friends and ask for what you need. It is so therapeutic to be loved with no expectations. And once you get the rest you need, be that supporting person for someone else. It is a rare and precious thing to be loved with no expectations.
Savor delicious and beautiful things.
Find a really good cup of coffee, the best pecan pie, a steaming cup of apple cider, and savor it. Put your phone away and focus on the way it looks, the texture of it, the flavor it leaves in your mouth. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. What memories do the smell, the taste, bring back? Think about where it came from, who cooked it, where it was grown. Being mindful for a few minutes helps me to “reset”. It quiets my racing thoughts and reminds me of the beautiful world I am living in. It reminds me of how creative and wise God is and was when He created the world. It reminds me that life is good, no matter what is going on.
These little things help me to refresh my heart when it is exhausted, and I hope they can help you, too. Take some time for yourself and come home.
What do you do to refresh and renew your spirit during the holidays?