Here are 6 rituals to close out this year and start a new one on a positive note of self-love.
The close of the year and the start of a new one can bring the promise of a bright future, joyful celebrations, and get-togethers with loved ones. But if you’re like me, you may not always experience those feelings of prosperity and happiness. There can be the pressure of gift-giving, attending parties, and simply too much hustle and bustle. What some consider a time for family, whether biological or family of choice, others consider a time of feeling left out, lonely, distant or disconnected. Many folx are also affected by the change in the weather; the cold and decreased sunshine causing seasonal depression and sadness.
So what can we all do to beat the end-of-year blues?
How about giving yourself a little gift? After all, who deserves a present more than you? Doing a little self care is the perfect gift to give yourself, especially when it comes to mental wellness. Relaxing the mind, body and spirit is a big part of making this celebratory time of year happier and less stressful. Here are a half dozen fun and fabulous things I like to do to keep my spirits lifted at holiday time. I hope they will give you a lift too.
Take a bath.
Instead of a shower, ease yourself into a warm tub to soak the tension away, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day. I like to add bubbles, fragrant body oils or some carefully-placed candles for a bit of ambiance. If you do light candles, keep them away from shower curtains and hanging towels. May I suggest going with subtle scents that will help you relax, such as this one from Pride Candle Co. They donate 10% of the proceeds from every candle they sell to an organization or project that supports the LGBTQ+ community. https://www.pridecandle.com/products/life-pride-candle
Take a walk.
Stretch those muscles and breathe in some fresh air. It can help clear your mind. And with all the extra food and treats we’ll be eating during the holidays, it doesn’t hurt to take a light walk after a meal to get the metabolism burning. Find a local park or trail, but even a walk around the block will do. I’ll often take a solo stroll, but make it more romantic by inviting your significant other to join you. It’s more fun with two.
Take a nap.
At this time of year it’s easy to feel run down. Grab a little extra rest with an afternoon nap. Even a catnap of 10-20 minutes can improve your mood, reduce fatigue and help you focus. I’ll even cozy up on the couch and doze off in front of the tv. For a little extra warmth, wrap yourself up in a sherpa fleece blanket with original designs from Society6 and Argentinian artist Pau Drach. https://society6.com/love-is-love_blanket
Take a break.
If you’re like most of the world, you probably pick up your smartphone as soon as you wake up and put it down right before you go to sleep. On average, we spend almost a quarter of our waking hours looking at or on our phones. Time spent on your phone can cause you to be less productive, lose focus and even affect your self esteem. This time of year, you may want to consider some time away from your phone. It can offer you some peace of mind, a break from the holiday stresses, or time to take that bath I was telling you about. And DO NOT even think about taking your phone into the tub with you!
Take a drink.
And by that I mean the non-alcoholic kind. My recommendation for the season is hot cocoa. Since chocolate is my go-to “happy snack,” it just makes sense that a mug of HOT chocolate is right up my alley (marshmallows optional)! Cocoa is not just a warm, soothing beverage, but one chock full of mood-enhancing, pain-reducing, stress-relieving properties. If you don’t believe me, believe the science. Cocoa contains big science-y words that are good for us like antioxidants, flavonoids, and tryptophan. But for me, I just think it tastes yummy. And hey, sometimes that’s all you need, right? Try this hot chocolate recipe from The Gay Globetrotter, Bailey Mills. https://www.thegayglobetrotter.com/best-hot-chocolate/ With only 6 simple ingredients (milk, heavy cream, sugar, cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate chips, and vanilla) it’s as easy as, well, as making hot cocoa! Just remember, all good things in moderation.
Take a meeting.
The end of the year is usually a time for lots of seasonal gatherings. Depending on COVID, you may have a holiday get together with stodgy co-workers, grouchy relatives or former friends. While some of these less-than-comfortable social situations may be unavoidable this time of year, it’s important that you connect with folx who make you feel safe, sane and seen. Arrange a meeting up with a few close friends; friends who are nurturing and who are easy to talk to. Perhaps plan a time for a video chat with a special someone who lives far away. This year, I expect to catch up with my dear friend Massimo, who calls London home. He is my travel buddy whenever I visit Europe. Any way you do it, take time to connect with your “community” this holiday season.
If you find yourself feeling isolated, overwhelmed or hopeless and have no one you feel you can talk to, you are not alone. Many people feel the same at this time of year, but there are those who can help. If you know someone who is showing signs of feeling this way, you can help too. Reach out to THRIVE Lifeline, an organization that offers assistance to those in LGBTQ+, POC and other underrepresented communities. Text “THRIVE” to begin a conversation with qualified counselors available 24/7/365 or from anywhere call +1.313.662.8209. They are available to listen and support you, judgment-free, during difficult times.
With all the gift giving, the partying and celebrating, remember to do something special for yourself. You deserve it. Self care is so important, and is as easy as having a cup of cocoa or taking a nice warm bath. So make time to relax your mind, body and spirit, now and all year long. If you feel good on the inside, you’ll exude that joy on the outside.
Have a wonderful holiday season! Cheers and happy new year everyone!