Keep Your Wits About You

When you carefully manage your mental health like I do, a change of routine can get everything out of balance.  An older, wiser mother I know offered her best advice for enjoying the holidays–despite any stress or change of routine.

She said, “Keep your wits about you.” 

In other words, do whatever it takes to keep yourself in balance.  Even in the most rushed of days, I want to take time to exercise, sleep enough, eat healthy foods, and spend time in reflection and prayer.  My doctor says that these activities recalibrate the brain to keep me from being “reactive.”

Venomous Cobra

Imagine a snake that whips her head around and attacks with speed and ferocious power.  When I’m reactive, I snap at family members and let the venom of a bad mood dominate my speech and actions.

Instead of reactive living, I want responsive living.  I want to be at peace in my heart and gentle in my speech.  I want to respond, not react.  I want to be like a butterfly, carrying sweet nectar–not venom–within me. 

So when I excuse myself from the holiday rush for a brisk walk, an early bedtime, or a moment to reflect and write a blog, I’m investing in my own balance. 

I want to enter a room full of friends and family and be a blessing–alighting as a butterfly upon each dear soul.  Let me offer beauty, let me delight you.  But first, let me take a moment to keep my wits about me.  

(Photos, “Indian Cobra,” courtesy of Kamalmv, Wikipedia, and “Monarch in May,” courtesy of Creative Commons)

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  1. Some people float about life with ease, others have to sustain and protect their fragile inner world and sense of balance. Being shaken by change is a familiar feeling, but avoiding changes makes me feel like a coward and prompts too much self-criticizing. I try to remind myself that I am doing the best I can, I am not hiding yet I am not pretending to be someone else, someone almighty, either.

  2. As I read posts by so many people feeling overwhelmed by the upcoming holiday season, I realize that my mother actually gave me a wonderful gift. She hardly celebrated the holidays at all. I know it was not her choice, but that's what happened.

    This frees me from any preconceptions or expectations of what I would like to do. I can do as little or as much as I want. I really don't feel any pressure to get gifts, organize parties, etc. I will do some of this, but only because I want to.

  3. keeping your wits about you can be hard. That is a lesson that I really needed. I often forget to do the things that keep me in balance. I should though…I find myself with a bad attitude when I don't. Perhaps I need to do the things that help me keep my wits. A good post, thanks so much!