Healthy, Happy Holiday Season

December is typically a month of many emotions for me—both highs and lows. It’s a joyous month of celebrating with family and friends, buying gifts for others, attending holiday parties, making and eating delicious holiday cookies (in particular, peanut butter blossom cookies which are my favorite!), and enjoying some well-deserved time off work. On the flip side, it can be a month of feeling exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, and depressed. It’s definitely a month when I make sure to take extra special care of myself by putting my health and well-being at the top of my priority list.

One way that I take care of myself is by making sure that I have some alone time, away from the hustle and bustle. Actually, for me, whether it’s the holiday season or not, having alone time is really important. For two main reasons: one, my personality, and two, my demanding job. Personality-wise, I’ve always been an introspective, spiritual person. I enjoy spending time with myself, even to the extent of taking vacations by myself—and actually preferring it that way. I just find that it is easier, less stressful, and allows me to use the valuable time I have off work just as I please…from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed. Job-wise, being an executive recruiter is very demanding and taxing; it requires that I put in 60+ hours a week. Also, due to the nature of being a recruiter, I’m talking to people just about every minute of the day, whether it’s in-person or over the phone. With 60+ hours every week like that, who wouldn’t want some solitary time, right?

Add in the holidays, and you add even more people to the mix: some, happy…others, not so happy…and others, grumpy…to put it mildly. Family members I just saw a month ago at Thanksgiving. Girlfriends at cookie exchanges. Coworkers at my company’s holiday party. Darling little kids running around Target screaming at the top of their lungs. My life becomes all about people, people, and more people. Which can lead to stress, stress, and more stress. And we all know that stress isn’t good for anyone, especially those of us with bipolar disorder.

When I start to feel exhausted or overextended, I step back to determine if I’m pushing myself too much. And evaluating my energy level is a good indicator of that. During the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that, although my depression has gotten better, my energy level has gone down. In my opinion, my bipolar symptoms have changed a bit…or, maybe my demanding job has taken a toll on me, and it’s time to get out of the recruiting industry…and/or I’m just getting older. In all honesty, I think it’s a bit of all of those things. But when I notice my energy’s low, I know I need some time to myself…that consists of being home in my 900-square-foot condo with just me, my cat, vanilla-scented candles, peace, quiet, and soothing, relaxing music…and whatever else I choose. A state of pure bliss.

Whatever your version of “pure bliss,” as you’re running around this holiday season, remember to take some time for yourself. Stop for a moment and just breathe. Spend some time with just one person—you—and enjoy the quiet calm. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. You deserve it.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy holiday season!

Love and light,