December symbolizes many lessons and themes for us as the last month of the year, yet the first month of winter holds both an ending and a beginning. Most often associated with the holidays, spending time with loved ones, events, and the end before the New Year. While there may be many things to do, check off our list, and places to be during this month – it also offers opportunities to slow down as we may have time off from work or school, travel to visit others, or spend more time inside due to the weather.
December can be a powerful month for us. We don’t have to get swept up in the hustle of the end of the year. We can attune to the changes and mindfully explore how this time of year can be a tool for us now and in the future.
Below are a few themes and potential areas of awareness for the next few weeks that we wanted to highlight and offer invitations for you as you see fit. Thank you for joining us this year, and happy December!
While this is typically a busy time of year for many people, the colder weather and the holidays also bring changes in schedules – hopefully allowing more time to go inward, time off from work, and moments of rest. Rest looks different for everyone, but it is the intentional action of ceasing to work, move, or do. Instead, it is the prioritization of relaxing and refreshing. Rest is crucial to reduce stress. It improves mood and mental health, and brings our bodies back to homeostasis.
As we spend more time indoors due to the weather and other changes, we may have more time to sit and do little, and rest can look however we like. Whether sitting on your couch with a cup of tea, being around the table with friends, practicing gratitude, or taking intentional deep breaths – it is the conscious action of pausing and just being that is most powerful.
Rest is also essential for repair. Think of high-performance athletes. For their muscles and body to perform at a peak level, athletes allow their body time to rest and recover to prevent injury, build endurance, and recharge. It becomes an essential part of their routine – and for non-high performance athletes, have we lost rest as part of our routine?
What could rest look like for you this December?
As another year closes, you may feel prompted to take stock of and assess this year. All that happened, things you learned, your desires, your relationships, and much more. Winter attunes us to a period of reflection and allows space for us to listen attentively to what has come up for us throughout the year.
Reflection can look however you like, but most often can begin by asking yourself a few questions in the space you have cultivated. The practice of reflecting can be done while walking, journaling, or talking with a friend.
Some questions to get you started:
- What emotions were most present? What is present now? Thoughts?
- What was a new experience you had?
- How were your relationships? With Family, Friends, Coworkers, and Others?
- What came up for you this year?
- In what areas did I improve?
- What did you learn about yourself? About others? About the world?
- What are you proud of this year? What did you accomplish?
- How do lessons from this year inform the next?
- What can you let go of?
Naturally, after resting and reflecting, you may feel the pull to think about the future and what this means for the future. Just as December is a time of slowing down, being with loved ones, and taking time off, it also means we know something new is just around the corner. The moments, lessons, and experiences of this passing year were there for a reason, and if we choose to listen and build awareness, we can learn from them.
Taking what comes up and noticing non-judgmentally, begin asking what needs to change, who you want to be, the connections made, and what intentions you want to set. Only after affirming what we have learned, what we have done and experienced, can we bring to light the future.
What change do you want to see in the New Year?
Written by: Chardyce Kott, LSW