Confessions of a Grinch - the Battle Plan

Notice a difference in my December postings? There's a reason for that, and it's time I came clean.

Hi. I’m a Grinch.

I know, no one likes a Grinch (not even Grinches), but I’m being honest here.

I didn’t used to be this way. But lately, every year, I have become just a little bit more… and then a little bit more… well, Grinchy. Until this year I began to get my Grinch on in early October. That’s when I knew it was time to make a battle plan. So far the Battle Plan has been doing a passable job. I feel less stressed about the holidays now than I did a month ago (thank goodness!) This is the battle plan:

1.       Try new ways of thinking

 One of the first things I noticed is that if I make a negative comment about the holidays, even a positive-minded person will respond with their own negative comment! We’ll have a supportive, sympathetic, mini-gripe fest. In the end this is not helpful to me. I don’t want to re-enforce my negative thoughts! I have enough of them without trading them around like baseball cards. Besides, I feel guilty for giving them my crappy baseball card. So the first order of business became: Quit complaining!

The second order of business became seeking patience and gratitude… which is easier said than done when it comes to emotional responses and perceived-to-be-stressful situations.
File:Giant Wild Goose Pagoda - Laughing Buddha.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
So that led me to utilize some of my Paperback Swap credits to get books on meditation and anxiety reduction. I go through them slowly, doing every exercise on the way, whether or not I think it will work, and whether or not I’ve tried it before.  Because hey – you never know – this part of the battle plan is about the trying. One of the exercises even helped me refine my anti-Grinch battle plan.

I also found a free lunch-time class on meditation at the Downtown Library, graciously offered by Wayne McEvilly. I am trying out the tools he taught us on using mantras.

My husband casually reminded me a few weeks ago about the studies that suggest smiling makes you happy, even if you weren’t already. Something about smiling triggering your brain to make the happies. Well. I have tried – when no one is looking, say, in the car for example, just smiling for no reason at all. Like a crazy person. I keep practicing it. (Don’t tell my husband; he might think I pay attention to him!)

2.       Remember my yoga

One of the reasons for my Grinching is that I hold a long to-do list in my head at all times. If not careful, I lose track of my linear perception of time. I feel that everything on my to-do list has to be done NOW, that all the parties and events are happening tomorrow. In short, my brain will condense all the activity over the three-month holiday marathon into one finite perpetual moment. I forget to Be Present.  I forget to Be Now.

So I am making a more concerted effort to be fully in the moment – to remember that all I have to do right now – is what I am doing right now. And all I have to worry about right now – is what I am doing right now. Now. Now. Now. Be present now.

3.       If I don’t have to… I don’t have to!

I’m usually a “Git ‘er done” kind of gal, but in honor of the holidays I’ve given myself Permission to Slack. I’ve bowed down from most of my usual holiday cooking and I’ve pushed several tasks and decisions off until January. So if it doesn’t need to be done right away… it’s not gonna. Less to worry about. If I earn some free time through this process, I spend it on Yours Truly, lazily and selfishly.

4.       Loads of extra exercise

Extra exercise not only reduces my concerns about becoming less healthy as a result of holiday temptations, it also naturally increases mood and energy levels.

...from my former life as a yoga teacher
I have been taking an exercise class almost every day. My goal is 5 days a week. I’ve also hit 6 days some weeks. I’m going to have to be gracious on other weeks and accept less-strenuous alternatives or breaks as the holidays make more time demands. During Thanksgiving, for example, I had to count walks around the neighborhood as my daily exercise.

I’m taking classes from three different exercise businesses – a yoga studio, a dance studio, and a pilates studio. The constant changes in how I move my body on a daily basis is helping minimize muscle fatigue and it’s keeping me interested and motivated. 

I’m going to be honest here – I can’t afford to live like this. I calculated that, full price, taking so many classes from so many facilities would cost me something like $3000 a year to maintain. I am doing it now through a combination of regular cash, trade, and Living Social vouchers. But I like it so much I think I’ll treat myself like this every November and December.  I feel like this is helping me behave like a sane person more than any of my other devised Grinch medicines.

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