When it’s not the most wonderful time of the year…

Hello everyone! I’m still here, this blog is still here, I’m just… busy. Some of that is with good stuff (studying languages! Going to concerts!). Some of that is… not. In this part of the world, it’s very dark and gray right now; the days are short, and at least here in London, I feel like we’ve been getting tons of rain. Plus, the holidays are really stressful for me, especially this year.

I refer to the spoon theory often on this blog (and in my daily life), but today I read about a fork metaphor for disability. It isn’t as intuitive for me as spoons, but the pertinent ideas are that sometimes you know that doing something would make you feel better, but you lack the energy/ability (forks) to do it, and that sometimes you do things and don’t get the forks anyway (an example for me would be that 99% of the time, doing yoga makes me feel at least a little better, so the few times when it actually makes my mood worse feels like such a failure and a betrayal!).

Sometimes I can’t tell when I’m giving myself permission to take a break because I genuinely need it and it will be restorative and it is a kind thing to do, and when it’s the depression telling me not to do something that will make me feel better (replenish my forks), because, as they say, depression lies.

All that to say: my fellow language-learners, especially you who are dealing with darkness (northern hemisphere-related or internal or both!), those of you who fear and dread the holidays as I do, hello. I hear you. I see you. Don’t beat yourself up for getting behind in your Anki repetitions or for cancelling conversation exchange meetups or for not hammering your way through a chapter of grammar that you wanted to.

If you only want to watch the same episode of a vlog in your target language over and over, or if you find comfort in listening to the same song in your target language over and over, or if all you can manage to do is browse Instagram looking at photos using tags in your target language (you guessed it)… then do that. Shift your study plan down to what you can manage, focus on what makes you feel calmer or cozy or safe. I think it’s important not to stop completely — I know from my own experiences with habits on Lift and elsewhere that restarting is sometimes harder than starting or continuing something — but I do think sometimes it just happens, and sometimes it might even be what you need to do.

For many people, this time of year is already difficult and guilt-inducing (why aren’t you happy, don’t you want to see your family/go to another holiday party, etc.). So lay off kicking yourself if you let your languages slide a little bit, all right? If you need to focus your energy on something else for self-care, then doing that will hopefully leave you in better shape to dive back later.

Seriously. Take care of yourselves, dear readers. Maybe we can make a bargain: I will try my darnedest to practice self-care in abundance if you will too. Does that sound like a plan? And we can meet back in January and figure out how to turn the studying back up again.

(And if anyone’s self-care strategies do involve learning languages, please comment and tell me about it! I did a few very short yoga videos in German this morning: that was nice, except the videos had some technical issues that made them hard to follow. I could look for other German yoga videos, except… you know. Spoons. And now also forks.)

(You can also comment and grump about the holidays or winter if you like, of course! Bonus if you can share some vocab for doing so in a language you’re studying.)

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