November is my favorite month of the year. The days grow shorter and cooler, the stress of the winter holidays is not yet upon us, the greatest food holiday of the year is celebrated, and on top of all that, it’s my birth month. There’s a lot to savor.
But we also stand on the threshold of one of the most stressful times of year for many folks: the winter holidays. For many of us, our days will soon be filled with the joys (and strains!) of visiting with family, attending holiday parties, travelling, shopping for gifts, decorating our homes, and all the myriad other activities of the season.
Many of us are so busy this time of year that we neglect to take good care of our bodies. Thanksgiving is often the “kick off” for a season of overeating, under-sleeping, and running ourselves ragged. By the time New Year’s rolls around, most of us are relieved to return to a more sustainable way of being.
It seems to me this annual cycle of exhaustion in the name of celebration is bad for us, body and soul. Author Thomas Moore tells us, “We may understand the body as a collection of facts, but if we also grant it its soul, it is an inexhaustible source of ‘signs.’ Tending the body in all its physicality, but also with imagination, is an important part of care of the soul.”
We tend to think of our bodies as vehicles, like a car, that we can drive past endurance, putting in a couple bucks’ worth of gas to get us a few more miles down the road. As long as we take her in for a tune up once in a while—like letting ourselves sleep in late once a week—she’ll be fine. Right?
But Moore points us toward a different understanding. The body is an expression of the soul, a point of connection. When we feed our bodies well, we nourish our souls also. When we allow our bodies to rest sufficiently, we nurture our souls as well. And when we neglect our bodies, we are neglecting the deepest, truest part of ourselves.
As we head into the holiday season, I encourage all of us to remember to keep self-care at the top of our to-do lists. Eat well. Get enough sleep. Drink water. Take a walk. Do some stretching. Your soul will thank you.