I love this period between Thanksgiving and the first of the year. At its best, it’s a season of especially gracious living, a time to connect with and affirm that which brightens the rest of the year—friends, family, faith, food, whatever have you. However, it’s also a time that can produce anxiety for any number of reasons. With so many ways in which your mental and emotional batteries can be completely drained come January, you need to set aside time to invest in your own self-care. Taking time to best care for yourself is what enables you to best care for others. With that in mind, the PEAK staff would like to offer the following recommendations to help you find peace and wellness now and throughout 2022.
Read, write, and listen
Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham helps you learn how to clear the noise in your thoughts to build a meditation practice (or just clear the noise). I also recommend Audible or AudioBooks. Listening to an old classic—Agatha Christie is a favorite—or newer authors like N.K. Jemisin or PEAK’s board alum Aiko Bethea has been a lifeline and keeps me thinking, laughing, cringing, or crying. Finding time to sit still and read an actual book has been fleeting, but I’ve taken in so many new things as I walk my neighborhood and exercise. Listening and movement is my new favorite pairing! –Satonya Fair, President and CEO
“I have a document called ‘365 days of joy.’ Every day, I record at least one thing that brought me joy that day. It helps me to uplift gratitude and to be intentional about creating a life full of joy. It has helped me to find joy in the mundane, sometimes the only thing I can list is ‘I saw a funny meme’ or ‘I watched a feel-good show.’ I have a daily reminder set and I keep it on my phone’s home screen so I don’t forget it. And it’s a quick and easy way to still be tied to journaling (which I love) even when I don’t have the time. I look back over it monthly and annually and it always brings back lovely memories.” –Chantias Ford, Interim Programs and Knowledge Director
Make mental space
“Boundary setting! I’ve spent much of 2021 analyzing and changing my boundaries. This process was daunting at the beginning, but as this year comes to a close, I feel myself breathing easier knowing that I have the power to say yes or no. I have more clarity for how I want to spend my time, both professionally and personally. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Tawaab has been a tremendous help in my boundary-setting journey.” –Altinay Cortes, Chapter Manager
“Puzzles. Working on a puzzle requires a level of attention that also can block out the chatter. It’s also wonderful as a group activity for the entire household or for when friends (safely) drop by your place. We need a PEAK puzzle!” –Dolores Estrada, Chief Operating Officer
“Doing Chocolate Mindfulness with MYRetreat was amazing with Melissa Mueller-Douglas. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the session except for the delicious salted caramel chocolate. [She guided the group through exercises that forced us to pause and focus on how we were feeling throughout our bodies and made us focus on the sensations we experienced as we ate our chocolate.] She made me realize I had so much tension throughout my body.” –Dionne Thompson, Member Services Coordinator
“This time of year, I feel my attention is pulled in 100 different directions, so I look for activities that drive focus. For me, that’s baking. It forces me to focus on the one activity at hand, and the aromatherapy from the fruits, nuts, and spices is hard to beat. And (when all things are normal) I spend the evening before I travel home for the holidays to paint springerle. It’s meditative. For a few quiet hours, I pay attention only to me and adding a pop of color to cookies. It’s a pause during a busy season that makes me feel recharged and able to enjoy the holidays.” –Jesse Rhodes, Communications Manager and Editor
“A walk in nature nurtures body and soul. I’ve also found it can be a meditative exercise when I focus on breathing as well as the sights and sounds around me. I’ve just discovered the benefits of using trekking poles to navigate trails safely while also adding mindfulness and intentionality to my movement.” –Betsy Reid, Communications and Marketing Director
“Embrace windy days! I learned about the Dutch concept of uitwaaien and have been chasing the wind for my outdoor movement ever since. Anything from a leisurely stroll to a quick run in the windy weather is reinvigorating. Focus on what you’re feeling and how you’re breathing to bring more mindfulness to your outdoor, wind-fueled activities.” –Caitlin McDanels, Marketing Manager
In addition, PEAK staff over the course of 2021 participated in Friday qigong sessions via Zoom. The Chinese tradition of controlled breathing and movements were a great way to unwind at the end of the week. (“Where has this been all my life?,” Fair says. “Even when not doing a class, I still do my movements.”) Estrada similarly recommends picking up a virtual yoga practice, noting that “the blur feature in Zoom is wonderful and provides a bit of ‘cover’ as you participate.” And Thompson suggests this tapping practice based on acupressure concepts to alleviate stress in your body—and get better sleep.
We hope the above suggestions inspire you to create your own wellness practices that will sustain you this season onward. All of our best wishes to you and yours–and we look forward to engaging with you in the new year.
Image: Let Yourself Rest (detail) by Shirien Damra for Amplifier.org