From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Rest and renew -- Many adventures lie ahead

The month of December is unique every year. Beyond the holidays, it represents a time of completion. December marks the end of the calendar year, the end of school semesters, a temporary end to work, and hopefully some amount of vacation time. It’s a bridge of sorts between the end of the old year and the beginning of a new year. And because it is a time period which can be spent in so many ways, I feel compelled to remind everyone that December must be a time for rest and rejuvenation (perish the thought!).  Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.

·         Pace yourself…don’t waste yourself. Give yourself a little quiz. Ask yourself, “what am I doing on a regular basis to revitalize my mind and body?” If you want to stop reading here, you’ve either flunked the test or passed with flying colors! Keep reading…please.

·         If you don’t rest now, when will you rest? I admire any country that mandates a daily siesta.  Does anyone else remember the 8-hour workday or the 40-hour work week? Much of the world used to shut down at night and on weekends. Families had more time together. Parents took time to play with their children.  Now we’re always working, or watching our kids play with other kids in organized sports. If the month of December holds any possibility for relaxing playtime, we must all seize the opportunity. The days are already flipping past us. In the words of Janis Joplin, I recommend that you “get it while you can”.

·         Give yourself permission to play. Just because we have the time, doesn’t mean we always make good use of it. I am pained by holiday stories where families stay so busy that they are completely wiped out by January 1st. As soon as possible, have an open discussion with your loved ones about what’s important to them this holiday season. If the most important idea is to find new ways to bond as a family, make some play dates with various members of your household. Memorable experiences don’t have to be expensive. Some of the best family activities involve a batch of cookies, popcorn, and a game of ball outside in the yard.

·         January will be here before we know it. December is a complex month because it is a time when we want to please those around us and please members of our extended families who may live far away.  Toward this end, it is easy to overbook our holiday schedules and approach our vacation time like a treadmill. This is a time when we are often torn between recreating the best holiday memory we ever had, and listening to our minds and bodies to find out what we really need this year. No doubt, December is a time of many choices. We have the choice of piling up lots of gifts and credit card balances, or giving a single gift that someone really wants.  We can use this month as a time to shift gears and become refreshed, or we can run ourselves ragged until we are all out of gas.

Now, I really don’t mean to tell you how to celebrate your holidays but I am concerned about the stress levels of adults and children alike. Each of us needs a bit of down time in order to take care of ourselves. Even a small break can go a long way toward recharging our mental, physical and spiritual selves. For those of us who are always thinking, planning or worrying, I recommend a special exercise which involves using a notebook and writing instrument (not a computer) to record your thoughts. This simple tool is essential because just when we begin to rest, various thoughts and bright ideas are bound to come to mind. As these thoughts occur to us, we can choose to write them down so they will be retrievable on January 2nd, or we can dwell and obsess on these great thoughts to keep from forgetting them and perhaps miss the holiday festivities all together. One way or another, when the glittering ball at Times Square ushers in the new year, some of us will start the year looking bedraggled and feeling exhausted, while others will return to work or school feeling refreshed and energized. Whichever choice you make, I hope you will enjoy each remaining day of this year and I wish us all a new year of peace.

©Copyright, 2006, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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