Growing up, I rarely stayed home from school. There was no “let’s play hooky” day, and being sick presented a whole host of issues. With two working parents, only vomiting or a fever granted us the right to stay home. Honestly, I never thought much about it. My siblings and I had strong immune systems, and out of this “must go to school” necessity, a strength to push through developed. And to this day, it’s this strength to which I attribute much of my “can do” attitude.
I know staying home from school when feeling run down or having a stomachache are just fine, but nevertheless, this idea of going to school in good times and bad helped shape me. And I’m grateful, because for me, it’s this attitude that helps me balance my clients, the website, these letters, and culinary school. But lately, I’ve been thinking about the potential consequences of my “push through” and “can do” drive.
I often pause to assess my thoughts, emotions, and feelings, but this week I wondered, how often do I pause to check in with my health? Not my musculoskeletal health; that’s something I know I do often. When I feel a tightness in my shoulders, for example, I have a whole bag of tricks to combat that ache. But what about the rest of my body? If I can identify and combat pain in my shoulders, why is it so hard to accept when my “can do” energy shifts to more of a “can I?” energy. And even once I’ve acknowledged that shift, what is holding me back from slowing down? Where is my bag of tricks?
For all of us, the next few weeks will likely be consumed with too much; too many late nights, exhausting days of shopping and cooking, and excessive sweets. So this week, I explored and researched the best way to check in and create your own bag of healing tricks while still maintaining your “can do” holiday spirit.
In looking for answers I found lagom, a concept of balanced living adopted in Sweden. In Swedish the word lagom is translated into the idea of “not too much and not too little.” Suddenly, this idea of finding a middle ground resonated. It’s like Goldilocks in search of “just right.” Finding your own “just right” means adopting a new way of considering how you will honor your limited time. For example, let’s say you have five invitations for holiday parties over the next few weeks; can you conversely set aside five evenings of relaxation, self-care, or time dedicated to loved ones? Or if your schedule is filled with festivities and that makes you happy, the question might be how to find balance at those parties. There is a Swedish proverb, Lagom är bäst, which roughly translates to “Enough is as good as a feast.” What a fitting mantra! Shift the focus on how to take part in the celebratory food and alcohol. Drink and eat enough – not too much and not too little.
To put this idea into action, start by writing down all your obligations from now until the end of the year. Writing them down is key. Sometimes looking at your electronic calendar makes your schedule seem much more open, but if you write it down and see how many of those little calendar boxes are filled in or how much your piece of paper fills up, you can really see how busy you are. Then make some decisions. Is there more white empty space needed, or more festivity? More time for family or more for friends—or more for you? Block off the necessary time for yourself or your family, or at least make a commitment to yourself to stop and consider how best to navigate your schedule.
It doesn’t even have to be just about this time of year, although this is a great time of year to start. Lagom is a lifestyle that calls on you to recalibrate your time, and, in doing so, your priorities can shift to bring attention to what your heart is telling you to do.
So your healing bag of tricks to combat feeling run down starts with considering this idea of not too much and not too little. For every day that feels potentially too much, perhaps find a way to balance the next day with less. Less isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact, it is a driver of strength. It gives you the strength of endurance—to stay healthy and sustain that “can do” attitude. Less sometimes really is more. For this holiday season, try your hand at lagom to keep pushing through with all the fun and cheer we all look forward to the whole year!