You've made your resolutions and hammered out a few goals for the New Year. But have you planned where you'll get the energy for them? If not, you may lose steam before Valentine's Day. When you take time to shore up your spirit – to refuel – you can do more and enjoy life better in the process.
Not sure what your spirit needs? Here are four common practices you can try:
Engage With Nature
House to car to building and back again. Our exposure to the outdoors, particularly this time of year can be limited. And when we deprive ourselves too long, we begin to see the effects. Taking the time to pause and soak in natural surroundings can revive our spirit in many ways.
Lori Whalen, a nature center educator, appreciates the break from routine the outdoors provides. She advocates getting outside to expand your awareness and see things differently.
Christina Hyun, mother of two agrees. She takes an extended time to explore the beach alone several times each year for this reason. "It reconnects me. It gives me perspective. Part of the reason I like to go to the water is that I feel really small next to the ocean."
Many people find actively seeking out time in a park, by a pond or hiking a forest trail to bring them new energy. But be careful not to turn it into another item on your checklist. Whalen warns, "It's important that people come to nature without having a scheduled activity where someone is leading them and teaching them something."
Take Time to Be Alone
Homeschooling mom, Carrie Klayum, knows well her need for time alone. But her family life doesn't give her many opportunities for this. So she works to make it happen. "If I get up early enough where I'm the only one up, I can be alone," she says. "Sometimes when I feel like I've starved my spirit and I've cheated myself of caring for myself, I will schedule a pedicure. Or I'll go out and run errands alone."
Getting "alone time" can be tricky. But for those whose spirits hunger for space like that, it's well worth it. As Klayum explains, "It energizes me and refreshes me. When I get a good chunk of alone time, then I'm ready to face the family again. I miss them."
Alone time might come after the kids are in bed at night or early in the morning before they're up. Swapping babysitting with another mom can provide a free afternoon of solitude. If you're one who requires personal space, look for creative ways to get time to yourself.
Let Music Move You
When you're feeling drained sometimes all it takes is a few tunes to refill your spirit. Consider the times when your favorite song has come on the radio and how it made you feel. Music therapist, Becky Wellman, affirms this. "The nicest thing about music is it can take you anyplace you want to be. Putting on a favorite song and dancing around the house can bring back everything you need to feel rejuvenated and ready to do what you need to do."
Planning out a time to listen to music as a practice to feed your spirit can have an even greater impact. With the right choices, you can shift your mood and energy through music. Wellman explains it this way: "There's a principle in music called the Iso Principle where we have to move the music from where we are at the moment to where we want to be. So if you're feeling frantic, start from music that's a little more energized and slowly move it into the mood you wish to have."
Wellman suggests using this principle over the course of five to ten songs, or for fifteen minutes to a half hour of listening. If you find yourself regularly getting into the same funk, you can create a music playlist to feed your spirit and regain those good emotions. When you're short on time even sitting down to listen to one great song can make a difference. "Go back to being in the moment and let a song carry you wherever it's going to carry you," offers Wellman. "It not only recharges you, it reminds you of what's most important in life."
Do What You Enjoy
It may sound obvious, but what our soul needs on occasion is simply time for fun. Whether it be participating in a sport, baking a favorite dish or crafting, a hobby can restore what the demands of life pull from us. Take time to do an activity for nothing other than the enjoyment of it. Read a book. Go for a jog. Pick up a hobby you let fall by the wayside. Can't think of anything? Grab a friend and try something new, like that pottery workshop you've been eyeing for a while.
"The world we live in is so 24/7 – go, go, go nonstop. And the responsibilities of having a family are so neverending that if you don't get off the treadmill for a little while, you will suffer for it. The world won't give you a break unless you take one for yourself," exhorts Klayum.
Whatever goals you have for this year, make sure you include taking time to feed your spirit.
Tips For Getting Started
– Get support. Hyun advocates enlisting your spouse. "Tell them what feeds your soul, because if they don't know they can't help provide it for you."
– Ditch the guilt. This is something you and your family need you to do. "People need to give themselves permission to play," says Whalen.
– Study yourself. Watch for what drains you and what brings you energy. Then incorporate energizing activities into your life whenever possible.
Parenting journalist and author Lara Krupicka most often fills up her spirit through crafts and reading a great book.