The Marathon

holiday stress

My son joined the high school Cross Country team this past fall, and immediately started training. Every day after practice I’d pick him up, sweaty and breathless, but the next day he’d be back out there on the field, running in circles with the rest of his team. His dedication never wavered, he never made excuses, and he ran every 5K or marathon that his team competed in.

Sometimes I wish I had that endurance (and resilience).

The last few weeks of the year have begun to feel like a marathon for me, and I’m already out of breath: Getting holiday shopping done in time, loads of event commitments at school and with friends, and a particularly aggressive work schedule feel totally overwhelming. Social media is feeding my fears that I’m not happy enough, cute enough or a good-enough mother during the holidays (YES, I read the inspirational quote accompanying the picture of you spinning your toddler on the beach in a bikini, THANKS FOR SHARING.). And the tragedies happening around the world make me feel funny about wishing anyone a Happy Anything right now. In fact, I feel guilty for being stressed at all, given what others are contending with this holiday season.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to battle the holiday overwhelm:

  • Keeping my diet clean and nourishing so my immune system can handle the virus du jour.
  • De-cluttering my home and breathing in my new sense of space.
  • Completing to-dos that have languished on my list and reveling in the lightness of that.
  • Finding less of an appetite for screen time and more for family snuggles in bed.
  • Spending more time on long, solitary walks—without devices— to reflect in silence.
  • Trying to be more forgiving of others, but especially of myself. When I’m feeling the pressure to “get it right” (perfect present, perfect party, perfect mood….), I try to shift into gratitude mode and list the things I’m thankful for. That’s the best way I know to get outside of my own mind and not drown in negative, perfectionist nonsense.

Towards the end of the season, I asked my son how Cross Country was going. “Pretty good,” he said, thoughtfully. “I’m not the fastest kid on the team, but I’m not sure I care— I just really like to run, and I’m enjoying the experience.”

I’m going to try to slow down and enjoy the experience as this year closes out. If I ever do run a real marathon, I think this is the only way to go.

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