At this time of year most of us are recovering from a busy holiday season. All of the excitement, stress, joy, even sadness or melancholy of the season can be wearing. This is not to mention the physical work of putting together a holiday gathering or even just attending them. It’s easy to feel divided and not fully present as we float between different events. Between social engagements, work tasks, family events, it’s almost as if we wear different faces in different settings. Needless to say, the season takes a toll.
The post-holiday daze takes over as we look at our disheveled, gift wrap covered, left-over food clean up, still-decorated-but-no-more-holiday-to-look-forward-to-houses. There is a socially and personally induced high as we prepare for the season and we feel the crash the instant it’s over. The gifts are opened and the food is eaten and it feels like the holiday is over just as soon as it started. It’s easy to fall into that crash and become overwhelmed. This is a reminder that it is ok to take a day or two to settle and come down before doing anything else. It’s an important time to protect your energy and even to rebuild your energy so you don’t wind up depleted and depressed. Not only is it ok, it’s NECESSARY.
We spend the time together in an emotional high—enjoying the festivities and celebrating through the chaos—and then we are left alone to deal with the aftermath. I hosted this year and I am fortunate enough that I had family help me prepare as well as help me clean up at the end. Honestly, I was not good about accepting the help because I am used to doing things on my own. I definitely have my own routine and I have a small space so sometimes more help is a hindrance. But I accepted some help in the end. Then I woke up today.
Immediately upon waking up, I felt the overwhelm of what I had left to do—and the fact that my husband had to go to work because of a cancelled vacation left me feeling lonely. It hit me that I should have accepted more help in cleaning up. In the moment yesterday, I didn’t feel like there was that much to do so I declined the help, but I saw the chaos that is my house this morning and realized that I left a huge amount of work. This wasn’t counting setting up my son’s toys that I knew he would want to play with. Side note, my son had a horrible reflux attack the day of Christmas so I was extremely stressed about him. He woke up still not quite himself. I made the decision that today was not going to be the day that I would be cleaning up.
So, given that it was roughly 4 in the morning and my mind had already run the gamut, I knew I needed to regroup. I spent the early morning completing my decade in review. My son and I then had a light and quiet breakfast. We took the dog out for a long walk. Came back home and I spent the rest of the time setting up his toys and listening to trash TV in the background. My husband was able to come home early so my son and I took a nap. We then played some games and ate some dinner and now I have some actual down time.
While it wasn’t the most productive day, the rest was absolutely necessary. My son needed attention and reassurance as he hasn’t been feeling well and we needed some reconnection. Not just over opening presents, but spending actual time together. I did manage to get some additional dishes done and recycle some boxes. But I am accepting that there is still work to be done—and I know it will get done. I made the promise to myself that I wasn’t going to care what other people thought and part of that is accepting that, in this moment, my house is going to be in chaos. There is time to clean and organize. But there are more important things—like making sure our well-being is addressed and taken care of.
So tonight, let the dishes lie. Let the empty boxes sit. Let the decorations hang a little longer. Take the time to recharge whether that is through exercise or meditation or sleep. Check in with yourself and your family and remember that even though the holidays are technically over (minus New Year’s celebrations), the stress is still high. Be gentle and take small steps. All will get done when it is supposed to. All is well.