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Self-Care During the Holidays: Eliminating the Need for Escapism.

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter once stated: “Your humanity is your instrument.” For artists, that metaphor can be extended to the care of the body, with regard to the practice of self-care, as the body is in essence the instrument case to our humanity and talents.

With the arrival of the holidays there is generally an encouragement and expectation to throw caution to the wind and indulge the senses, followed by a January run of detox and dieting to regain balance. There are those who may create boundaries for themselves in advance to protect their health goals by abstaining from certain foods or alcohol, or avoiding sugar and sweets in support of an organic or vegan lifestyle. Given the additional adage of the body existing as a temple for the mind and spirit, there is an increased focus during the holidays on the maintenance of the physical temple, but not as much consideration given to the cultivation and maintenance of the mind and spirit--or the time spent overindulging in behaviors or mindsets that prove toxic to creative growth in the long run. The creation of a temple of time and space that allows for a moment of self-awareness and self-reconciliation can protect against the need for escapism through overindulgence.

The outward construct of time is ultimately an attempt by humanity to measure against eternity. How we spend our time within the temple of that construct and what we celebrate or prioritize within it determines the amount of creative and spiritual fruit that can be produced through our gifts and talents. Previously during the holidays, I would routinely fill up whatever available space on my calendar with projects, annual planning and to-do lists as a form of escape to maintain a sense of control over the growing fear and anxiety I had concerning the stillborn outcomes of the dreams I had for my career and my life in general. With the approach of every January, the same fear and anxiety would roll over into the New Year, morphing into larger doubts that overshadowed whatever optimism remaining, hampering my energy going forward. The escapism of the white noise of anxiety, confusion and uncertainty through busyness can also be demonstrated through escapism in overindulgence in food or other external forms of pleasure (or punishment). As an alternative, my goal for this year has been to make time to sit in observance of the experiences that were presented over the course of the year and allow myself time to be present emotionally with whatever fear, anger and unresolved questions I may have in order to lessen my load going forward by acknowledging them and accepting them in full.

Within scripture, Solomon built The Temple of the Most High, where the Creator chose to reside in covenant with the people of Israel. The reverence that was shown in its care and the worship that took place there was central to the people’s success and protection. Anytime there was any action within its walls that ran contrary to its purpose, there was an immediate ricochet effect that showed in the dismantling of the people’s prosperity and peace. A parallel can be made in regards to the temple of time that we are gifted with to create in. When we honor the time we have and do the work to keep it clear and uncluttered, we make room for continued growth spiritually and artistically.

Creating a space for authenticity and non-judgment for yourself, where you can be present with the details of your life, is a crucial act of self-care. In allowing the time to engage with the good, bad and the ugly of your experiences and reality, self-sabotage through overindulgence can be avoided, clearing the runway for a balanced takeoff into the New Year ahead.

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