There is no better word to describe that feeling of jubilant effervescence you get when you are truly in love than “Sparkle”. Doesn’t it seem to bubble up even more than usual this time of year? If you answered a resounding “Yes!” Congratulations! You have Christmas Spirit. If you rolled your eyes or feel less than enthused, lend an ear. Let’s try to get your sparkle back.
Focus on You
Do you feel more overwhelmed than usual this time of year? Are the crowds, traffic, short days, and happy people starting to get to you? You’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, women especially experience higher stress because we take charge of everyone else’s happiness (1). We plan and execute the decorations, meals, and outings. Somehow we do it on top of our already booked schedules. We still have jobs, the kids still need to get to school and to extracurricular activities, and there are the Christmas programs and parties to think of as well. No wonder we can’t find our sparkle. It’s buried under all of the other stuff.
In the midst of all of this extra responsibility, it is more important than ever to take time out to focus on you. Even if you have to get up early to make time for yourself, do it. What fills you up? Schedule that massage, yoga class, pedicure, hair appointment, whatever it is. While you’re there, fully enjoy the hour away from the hustle and bustle. Or, crazy idea, leave a bit of your schedule blank. Leave deliberate holes in your appointment book. Use this time to decompress. Think you don’t have time for such nonsense? Find the time. If you only take the time to sit and breathe in silence for 2 minutes out of each hour, do it.
Be aware of how you cope with the added stress of the season. Many people overindulge on the ever-present goodies and cocktails this time of year because they want relief from their stress. Why are you reaching for that third cookie? Are you really hungry? Maybe you’re hungry for something besides food. We all crave connection, warmth, and beauty in our lives and this time of year we need it more than ever. Maybe we want that cookie to help us through, or even replace meaningful connection in our lives. I mean, the cookie doesn’t judge. The cookie is always there for us. The cookie fills us up and reliably gives us the dopamine we long for. Take time out to unpack these feelings and maybe talk to someone about them.
Don’t skip out on your usual healthy routines. Make time to exercise, cook wholesome meals, journal, meditate and work on your hobbies. Get up early and have your coffee in peace. All of these things can help you keep some sort of normalcy during this potentially stressful time.
Get Some Vitamin D
Many people who live up north take sun vacations every winter. During the dead of winter when we get hardly any sunshine at all, they take a trip to somewhere warm and sunny. I think this is an excellent idea. Not only for the time away, but also for the Vitamin D. Many people get depressed this time of year for the simple reason that they aren’t getting enough sunshine. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People who are especially prone to this condition really do need their sunlight. While bulbs and supplements can help, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned sunshine.
If you’re like me, getting away to some beach in the winter is pure fantasy (yes, that’s a self-limiting belief). But, there are ways to get some sun most days and hopefully stave off the worst of the winter blues. I try to get outside every morning. Usually, this is in the form of walking my child to school, but sometimes I deliberately go out onto my deck when I don’t have to just to feel the sun on my face. This helps but doesn’t give me all the boost that I need, so I take Vitamin D sublingually every morning during the dark months to boost my immunity.
I hope this helps you get some sparkle back into your life! Remember to be thankful for what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Appreciate the people in your life, and go easy on yourself. Make sure you keep the true meaning of Christmas close and try not to get tangled up in the commercial claptrap. And treat yourself every so often! You deserve a magical Christmas, too.
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(1) “Holiday Stress.” American Psychological Association. 12 December 2006. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf