I woke up this morning feeling quite tired. I’ve had a heavy work schedule, teaching two teaching skills modules back to back; work in the office is piling up; the clocks have gone back and there is a lot to organise in the family. I think many of us find ourselves tired and over-busy in the run up to Christmas and it is easy to get run down and catch one of the omnipresent cold or flu viruses.
So, what to do?
I try to eat well, with lots of fruit & veggies (as a vegan it’s easy to get your five a day) and exercise regularly. I also take a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements. I take Echinacea and bee propolis throat spray if I come into contact with a cold virus or get a sniff of any cold symptoms. Is this hypochondria you may wonder (as I often do!)? Perhaps, but on the whole, it seems to work and I believe this keeps me well – safe in the knowledge that the placebo effect is the best medicine known to man! Apparently, the bigger and pinker the pill the better!
I have also been reflecting how tiredness feels in my body – I feel it in a heaviness around the eyes. The rest of my body feels perfectly fine. I also see how thinking repeatedly how tired I am makes me feel even more tired, so not a helpful habit to get into. I remember telling Lama Yeshe Rinpoche once that I felt tired, and he informed me that the more Mindful I was the less tired I would be – which I have found to be true!
Still I pay attention to my tiredness and see it as a prompt to take care of myself. I make sure I am in bed early each night, make time to walk the dogs in the crisp winter or damp drizzly weather and regularly take breaks from my computer during the day.
It is easy in these dark winter days to get into what Rob Nairn calls ‘Poverty Mentality’, where we are constantly pondering all the things in our life that we want to be better. Can we catch ourselves at this and consider instead all the things we are grateful for: our friends; our practice; a smile from a stranger; getting a seat on the train; the hot soya latte I am going to drink when I get into the office! And, by the way, if you are feeling a bit miserable as you walk to work, listen at full blast to your favourite songs on your headphones & walk/dance the rest of the way to work. Notice whether the joy of this brings you into the present moment – works for me every time!
This time of year provides a good opportunity to reflect on all the activities I do that deplete me and drop some of them or if that is not possible do them Mindfully. Also, it is a good opportunity to do more of the things that nourish me and that I enjoy – so tonight I will be curling up on the sofa with my daughter and the dogs, with take out pizza (no cheese!) and watching the first Harry Potter movie – how wonderful!
How can you celebrate and enrich your life during these cold winter days?
Heather Regan Addis