We are between the holidays, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are unusually close to one another this year. Which means less time to do everything, so we are busier than usual.
Everybody is hosting parties and there is the family, work and acquaintance obligation. Add to that the gifts, the cooking, the decorations. We all have a schedule that would do better if days would be 35 hours long, but they are not, so we run, we grind and we push and hope that the sugar cookies at the office will sustain our energy.
The problem is something that we all know: After a sugar rush, there is always the sugar crash. We are tired, lethargic and completely missing the point of the holiday. It is as if we are running a race, and our eyes are set on “Make it through the holidays.” We are giving gifts, but we are so tired that it is hard to enjoy the act of giving. We are eating fantastic food, but we are so high on sugar that we can no longer enjoy the flavors, and then the guilt sets in. Too many cookies, too little time, and there goes an emotional crash as well.
To avoid the ups and downs, I decided to cut out the sugar, both literally and figuratively, between the holidays.
It takes a bit of self-control for sure, and I am not always successful, but when I follow these three rules, I gain back the joy and intimacy of the holiday season.
Cut out sugary food: I cut out all sugar and snacks between the holidays. I try to encourage my work environment as well by advocating for a no-sugar workplace. I ask folks to please not bring any sugar-containing food to the office. We can bring fresh fruit, vegetables, and deli plates, but not sweets. This simple step will avoid the sugar-high and subsequent sugar-crash. It prevents the holiday guilt and pounds, and it will also make eating that one slice of pie at the holiday dinner table more precious. By eating deserts only on unique occasions you will bring the joy back into the holiday table.
Holiday party overload: I decided to move the holiday party for my business to the post-holiday season. Spira yoga is a tight community of about 40 teachers and staff. We love to spend time with each other, but I recognize that this time of the year is so busy that hosting a holiday party becomes an obligation. So I wrote a friendly letter to the staff and told them that our party will be in mid-February. By that time, most of us are dealing with the post-holiday emotional crash, so hosting a party at that time is ideal. Then, we have the time for it, and we can use a little pick me up through community.
People that I don’t know: Our lives are full of people that we hardly know and feel there is an obligation to keep up appearances. There are, of course, different levels of relationships. We have family, deep friendships, acquaintance friendship and work relations and friends. We need all kinds of connections to make our social life function. But often we try to sustain with great energy the relationships that are “lighter” on the social scale while we neglect our deep meaningful relationships. The holidays are the perfect time to ask the question “Which relationship links support my soul?” and in the name of holiday spirit make a goal to focus on heart-soul-relationships. Of course you never know when an acquaintance turns into a close friend, so you don’t want to push people away — just postpone. Simply write, “Dear so and so, I would love to get together, but the holiday season is so busy. I would like to make a meaningful connection and get to know you better, how about we get together in February?” and actually offer a day and time. There is nothing worse than the brush off, “Oh I can’t see you now, but I will send you dates later.” Of course, in that case, the invitation never comes. Please don’t do that. Instead, write a handwritten note and offer an alternative.
I know what you’re thinking: What if I don’t want to see these people enough to spend time writing a letter and telling a specific time for a future get together? To that I say, my dear friend, stop pretending and wasting your time, just cut out the sugar. Smiling and pretending to be sweet is fatiguing. If somebody means so little in your life, it is better to be honest and let them go. Pretending to care to hold up a relationship is both painful and a waste of time for all parties involved.
So take a little time to cut back on sugar, prioritize meaningful relationships, and reorganize when you see acquaintances. I promise, there is nothing sweeter than spending time with your loved ones while eating your favorite pie without guilt or exhaustion.
Dora Gyarmati teaches yoga and mindfulness classes. She owns Spira Power Yoga in Issaquah and West Seattle. Her company M3Bmethod also lectures on resilience and stress management to corporations, communities and hospitals.