Playing the “Glad Game” this Winter
My Mother has often referred to me, throughout my life, as “Pollyanna” for being optimistic. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Pollyanna, she was a poor, orphaned girl that went to live with her wealthy Aunt. With her she brought “the glad game” that was taught to her by her father, in which the goal is to “find something about everything to be glad about,” no matter the circumstances. I will credit my optimistic nature to my Mother for reading me this book as a child. My optimism has served my mental health well over the years, but it is not always easy to play “the glad game.”
2020 has been a challenge in so many unexpected ways, yet I’ve seen beautiful optimism from those around me. In the beginning of the year, I heard the “glad game” being played in different ways. Some enjoying time off work, others might have looked at travel plans being cancelled as a time to come home to themselves, while others found optimism in time with the family. The “glad game” had to continue all summer. Without the normal summer events, gatherings, weddings, and such happening, we had so much more time to explore the beautiful nature around us or start that home improvement list that we’ve been putting off. I made it my goal to submerge myself in some natural body of water weekly. It was so wonderful!
Now, as fall and soon winter roll in, the “glad game” has become more difficult. Outdoor activities get more limited as the weather gets colder. We may have thought things would have gotten better by now, but they have instead got even more uncertain. Family gatherings and traditions are getting cancelled for safety. There is a collective energy of dullness, frustration, and hopelessness. We don’t have as much control over our life and livelihoods as we once thought. The “glad game” is getting very hard to play.
When things feel out of our control, it’s helpful to realize what you do have control of and make the best of it! The most important thing we have control of is our day-to-day actions and our daily habits. To make the best of what we can control, we need to deeply analyze our daily habits, and be honest with ourselves about which habits are hindering or helping our health. The habits that are helpful to our health are called acts of self-care. Self-care can be as simple as eating and sleeping regularly, and as indulgent as an Epsom salt bath with essential oils followed by 20 minutes of meditation. If you are reading this, you most likely know how your daily habits affect you and are already on a path to building more habits of self-care. You understand that it’s a lifelong journey that ebbs and flows with your life. Sometimes we may have to dial back self-care habits that take time and/or money back to simply survive, while other times we may have the opportunity to add in all the self-care rituals! My new favorite self-care practice is learning to go with the flow and be easeful in whatever situation life presents to me.
So how does this acknowledgement of self-care habits put us back in the “glad game” as the world and this holiday season isn’t as magical as we may want it to be?
Look back to holiday seasons past and all the parties and obligations. While some might still be happening, there are probably many things cancelled. Normally this time of year is a struggle for many to maintain their healthy habits with all the temptations around. The late parties, eggnog, and snacking build up and send our health into a downward spiral that we typically won’t acknowledge until the new year.
This year, we have a head start! We won’t have to detox and diet in the New Year, because this year has given us less opportunity to overindulge. With fewer unhealthy choices to make this year, there is less temptation to load our bodies with toxins of alcohol, sugar, and sleep deprivation. Fewer options for celebrating outwardly provides more opportunities to celebrate inwardly by dialing in our self-care habits at the end of 2020 and feel great going into 2021. This will build strength in our mind, body, and spirit to continue on a balanced path. With greater strength and balance we can take on whatever uncertainty life gives us moving forward with grace and stamina.
This is what I am focusing on to stay active in the “glad game” through the end of the year and beyond. I hope you join me!