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Making the most of quiet time



The holiday season is bursting with people, activities, shared meals, family dynamics, and more. In the afterglow or aftermath (depending on your perspective!), we generally have less structure, fewer group activities, and less stimulation. We may be packing up decorations, looking to rebalance our budget, and returning to a more familiar routine of work, exercise, or school.

Regardless of whether you’re energized by the holiday season or exhausted, this is the perfect opportunity to start fresh by consciously pausing to rest, reflect, and recalibrate. Create space for quiet time and make the most of it.


What just happened?

You might start by considering how the holiday season has been for you. Holiday activities generally require us to access energy and engage socially.

So, rather than the more natural inclination toward introspection and restoration (hallmarks of the winter’s water element in traditional Chinese medicine’s five element theory), we’re called to override this impulse and instead expand, move, and connect.

As the holiday season passes, some of us will feel depleted, while others may be bursting with energy. We’re all wired differently! (More on that further on.)

Take several deep conscious breaths and reflect on your

·         energy level

·         physical health

·         emotional state

·         financial condition

·         relationship health

Notice where you may be out of balance, depleted, or too full. This gives you a quick baseline, a reference point to guide you forward.


Shouldn’t I be doing something?

When we’ve been doing a lot over the holiday season, it can seem like there’s something off if we don’t continue to keep busy. However there’s so much to be learned when we shift focus from doing to being.

Judy Cashmore is a Vancouver-based movement and embodiment teacher. She sees numerous benefits to embracing the quiet of being:

·         deep restoration of our nervous system

·         sparking of creative impulses and problem-solving approaches

·         clearer perspective on ourselves and on our lives

·         space to process and release any stuck or repetitive thoughts and feelings

·         connection with the natural world by allowing ourselves our own “season” of quiet


We’re all wired differently!

In this post-holiday season, reflect upon what this time has been like for you, where you were stretched beyond your comfort zone (a typical introvert’s dilemma), where you were contentedly in the flow, and where you yearned for more (the extrovert’s lament). This can help you to make sense of how you feel now.

The 20th-century analyst Carl Jung posited that people either recharge themselves in solitude (introverts) or socially (extroverts). The contrasting styles are on a continuum where each person has differing proportions of each style. Thus, we may have different levels of comfort with social stimulation and also different ways of centring and recharging.

If you’re more introverted and yearning for downtime, yet still have family, work, or social obligations, try intentionally integrating boundaries and breathers. If, on the other hand, you’re more extroverted and yearning for social activity to continue, try reaching out to others and do something together.


Tips for embracing quiet

We all find our own ways to move through life. Cashmore has some tips for those who would like some support embracing the quiet:

·         Feel the afterglow of the holiday time as if it continued on within you. Reflect on what stands out, what delighted you, or what you didn’t enjoy.

·         Allow yourself moments of “free-range mind” to wander, shapeshift, or be refreshingly empty.

·         Engage your senses by sipping warm drinks, breathing in the fragrance of pine, scrubbing your body in the shower,  or listening to music that feeds your soul.

·         Take cues from the natural world that is inhabiting quiet at this time of year. Sense your own place in this larger seasonal cycle.


Reframing alone time

Notice what story you tell yourself about alone time—because that story will inevitably influence your perspective. If you think there’s something wrong because you are alone right now, try reframing to encompass the notion of space for something new.

If you’ve been spending a great deal of time alone and telling yourself it’s good because it’s solitude, consider if you’re avoiding or missing something else. You might reframe your experience as a period of isolation from which you can shift.

Recognize that your beliefs affect your perceptions and thoughts—so if you want a different experience, change up your assumptions!


Find the gold

This season will transition into the next. Before it does, you have some space to give yourself a shake and begin anew. Take your time, and maybe appreciate yourself in the process. There is really no one like you!


The buddy system

Introverts and extroverts don’t need to live on separate planets! Take a cue from strong business leaders: they create teams that capitalize on differences.

If your friend, colleague, or spouse is different from you on the introvert/extrovert continuum, leverage this by learning to understand and appreciate how you’re different. Together, navigate territory that is tricky for one of you by leaning on each other.


Accept seasonal cycles

Recognize that the natural world we live in is cyclical, not linear, and that this season will eventually transform into another. Accept the invitation of the season, while it’s here.


Exercise your sense of humour

Being able to smile or laugh at yourself, your situation, or the world helps you to get present and makes each moment more enjoyable. And you’re better company too!

This article was originally published in the January 2024 issue of alive magazine.



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