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Be Gentle with Yourself

I guess you could say I’m one of those people who never stop. Not even to sit down unless I’m in a meeting or sitting down to eat. Even then, I’m antsy.

Those around me tell me to sit down. Take a break. “You’re a whirling dervish”… or something in that order. That’s me about 7 months of the year.

Around the end of October, I can sense it. The days are shorter, the light looks different and then the cooler temperatures start creeping in.

The dreaded time change comes in November and along with that, complete darkness at 5 pm.

It’s not like I’m surprised it’s happening, but what does sneak up on me is the downturn in my mood, motivation and general demeanor.

Do you feel me? I actually get really frustrated with myself. I “should” want to get up and go. I “should” enjoy getting out and attending parties, concerts, and events. Instead, all I want to do is put on my PJ’s, make a pot of coffee and stare at the Christmas tree. Or read. Or watch Netflix.

Now, despite what I just said, I do get out. I go to the events, meetings, and the like because I know it’s necessary and I also know I will be glad I went, once I get there. However, I have also come to this realization; I must be gentle with myself. I recognize that this phase is temporary and there are some things I can do to take care of myself and not feel one iota of guilt or self judgement.

  • Stay in. That’s right. I can do ALL the things I want to do including but not limited to, Netflix, coffee, jammies, a warm blanket and a good book. And so can you. These are joyful things for me and they bring me comfort. Why in the world have we demonized comfort?

  • I have a gym in my hometown that is filled with windows. I purposefully go in the middle of the day when the light is the brightest. I lift weights and get my cardio in, plus there are people there. This is important because some of us may want to isolate and this helps keep that at bay.

  • Quiet time in the morning. I meditate, pray, journal and just get quiet. This helps enormously when my mind is whirring with all kinds of thoughts. It literally helps me feel centered and not rushed.

  • Surround yourself with trusted friends or family. Honestly, these people get me. I don’t use them to dump on them, but their counsel is invaluable. I find that my emotions this time of year have a sharper edge, and I’m grateful to have discovered this. As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better you do better.” When I am aware, I can make better decisions.

  • Find the joy. Our worldview can sometimes be pretty bleak. When I am intentional about looking at what’s right in front of me, I find beauty. The beautiful red Cardinal outside my window, the laughter of my children, or how my favorite song instantly improves my outlook.

Being gentle with yourself is simple but not easy. Expectations are deadly and can lead you right down the path of “not good enough”, sometimes multiple times a day. Usually the idea of doing things which are loving for myself is the last thing I can think of to do. But, it’s essential.

What is the most loving thing you can do for yourself today?

When was the last time you gave yourself time to read, or journal, or cook or whatever it is that brings you joy?

I give your permission. Be gentle with yourself.

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