Monday (afternoon) pick-me-up: go harder than you’ve gone all year.

This past weekend, I went to one of those running stores where they can analyze your stride and the way your feet move while you run so you can find the type of shoe that is best for you. I did this back in high school, but it’s been about 6 years and I’d been feeling some pain while running, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go get it checked out again.

I was really excited at the thought of figuring out which shoes would be perfect, but I was surprised when I went and the first thing the woman told me was that I stood the wrong way and my running posture was not good at all. I’d been running the same way for years! I don’t run with my feet behind me, but I sort of hunch and keep my feet going in front of me, and when I swing my arms, I basically twist my entire torso. All bad things. I also lock my knees when I stand, arch my back, and put all of my weight on my heels instead of bending a little and evenly distributing my weight. All of these factors though, they contribute to the pain I feel when I’m running or in the days following.

Why am I telling you all of these things?

I got a cool picture of what happens when I’m not self-aware and when I just want to plow through. And it’s not one thing that throws us off, like it wasn’t one thing that contributed to my pain while running. It’s the perfect mess of things that push us where we’re going. It’s a good picture of how we stay busy and keep going even when we’re sinking into unhealthy patterns and don’t even realize it. We can do that during this holiday season, or we can choose grace and self-awareness. It’s better for you and for the people around you.

This morning my boss reminded us that these weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas ought to be our most creative and productive, but often it’s easy to sink into laziness and coast until the next holiday. I do it in some ways. You do it too. Don’t lie to yourself.

So pick something, anything, that you’re going to make a habit for the next few weeks. Are you going to do a hundred pushups every day? Are you going to make the effort to cook yourself breakfast every morning? Are you going to put your phone down and read every night before you go to bed? Or maybe read while you’re making your coffee in the morning? Are you going to run to clear your head? Are you going to take up meditation? Pick something. For your sanity, I know it’ll be for mine too, and it’s good. Cultivate something good during this holiday season.

Because the holiday season can be really difficult. I know I slip into anxious tendencies, with money and time and memories. I haven’t lost any relatives close to me, and I don’t experience a lot of dysfunction in my family, which I am INCREDIBLY grateful for. But I say all this to make the point that holidays can still be difficult and heavy on some days. We can eat a little more which makes us more aware of our bodies or we can spend a little bit too much money and it can make us worry. Or we have issues with the church and a lot of people focus their Christmas season around the church, which can be painful. It’s still hard. And it can get cold and a little gloomy, which takes a toll on our emotions and mental health. I definitely feel that, even when I have every reason in the world to not experience that sadness and anxiety.

So it’s okay. There is grace for literally every single day, and maybe you needed to read that today because it’s Monday and when you woke up there was some rain on the ground. I want to encourage you to tell someone, not for the pity, but as a way of saying, “Here’s how you can walk with me in this season even when it might not make sense. I’m going to be sad and anxious sometimes, but I’m giving you permission to rip me out of that headspace.” We all need those people. I know my people, and I want to encourage you to find yours.

Whoever is reading this, I’m grateful for you, and I’m encouraged by you.

You deserve to be taking up the space you’re standing or sitting in, and you deserve to do good things today. Go serve someone. Go encourage someone. Tell someone you’re grateful for them, but go a step further and tell them specifically why, even though it may feel awkward. They probably need it, and you do too.

I haven’t taken the time to choose healthy habits. An example: I’m in the middle of a 100 pushups a day challenge for the month of November, but I do it to check it off, not to get stronger. So don’t be deceived when you’re on the outside looking in on someone else’s life. I haven’t been writing enough, which means I haven’t been communicating as well as I could be. I’ve been very stuck in my own head. I haven’t been as present as I could be. I haven’t been as gracious with myself, which means I’ve been even less gracious with the people around me.

So I’ll say it again: pick something. Swap Netflix at night for a chapter of a book. Don’t drink the extra cup of coffee; choose an extra hour of sleep. Put your phone down. As cliche as it sounds, take a minute to look around. While you’re in line for something today, keep your phone in your pocket and look around you. Make eye contact with people and speak genuinely. Choose to not let the thoughts and holiday anxiety weigh you down, but choose the light and truth. Take deeper breaths. Take moments for yourself. But go hard, harder than you’ve gone all year. Get the things done that you’ve dreamt about. Do things for other people, and do them with a grateful heart. There’s a balance, but I believe you were meant for better things than you’re currently doing. And you have it in you.

Happy Monday.