This Holiday Season, Give It to Someone Special
This holiday season, George Michael is again reminding us to give it to someone special. I agree. And by "it" - I mean your energy.
I generally don't like the constant holiday songs of the holiday season - I find it all a bit forced. I do, however, like the George Michael song "Last Christmas" where he sings about giving his love away with heartbreaking consequences last Christmas. This Christmas, he's going to give it to someone special, presumably with hope of a different outcome. I always wonder how he's going to accomplish that. If you love someone, you are by very definition at risk of being heartbroken because of the fact that your heart is in the game - because you care. (And you can't give your love to someone in the first place - it's either there, or it isn't; another blog altogether!)
It's actually the whole concept of giving of yourself, your energy and where you choose to place it, that is on my mind. I am not one to show my love through stuff - not that there is anything wrong with doing so. Some people do find a lot of joy and satisfaction in finding those perfect gifts for their loved ones, and I think that's wonderful. It's just not me.
I show my love through my time, attention, and energy through acts of service (like cooking healthy treats for my family). But I do have 2 grade-school kids, so holiday gifting is essentially required of me.
Thus, I found myself braving the malls yesterday, armed with intent to complete or at least partially complete the holiday gift list I "need" to address (and address well). I started the day in the way I prefer: eating a healthy breakfast, doing a fun exercise class at my beloved Yoga Six, having a meaningful and uplifting conversation with a few members of my yoga community.
Seems to me that this should have been enough "self-care" to prepare me for the wilds of holiday season shopping at the malls. But, lo and behold, it was not.
Even before I headed out to the jungle, I noticed that I was developing cravings for "comfort foods" and of the unhealthy variety. My "drug of choice" was too much chocolate and trans-fat-laden tinned popcorn. I told myself I probably needed the extra energy; that I would be burning it off in my shopping travels.
But I also noticed that I was feeling like I had to drag myself through the excursion. My mood darkening, my irritation level rising, my cravings for more junk food increasing. I ended the day with yet more unhealthy fat and sugar and felt terrible as a result: out of control, beaten down, and blue. Worse still: Holiday list completion? Mission un-accomplished!
This morning, I was thinking through the turn of events. How I forced myself to do what I really didn’t want to do (shop with the crowds for more "stuff" I don't even want to be buying) and "power through" or "power over" my instinct on how to better spend my energy.
How can I make this awareness work for me in real life?
I will still buy gifts for people but I will notice and embrace that this is not the most authentic and organic way for me to demonstrate my love and care for those around me. I will notice that forcing myself to do what is "expected" of me but non-authentic to me can have the toxic result of reducing my energy and thus my ability to show my love and care for people in ways that do serve me and others better.
Moving myself toward a more authentic holiday, a more authentic life. To me, this is what optimal health is all about.
Dr. Cindy Haines is a family doctor, medical journalist, and "70.3 yogi." For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.