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For me, November is about the time of year that I start feeling run-down, and a little frayed around the edges.

Suddenly, my schedule is even more packed than usual. An alarming convergence of overlapping Gantt charts, my life suddenly looks like it’s being meted out in 15-minute increments — because it is.

All the year’s big-deal projects and objectives are going into their final stretches. Meanwhile, next year’s first-quarter objectives are already beginning to clamor for my time and attention. And, ahem, don’t look now, but here come the holidays. Sigh. Summer vacation seems so very long ago.

Perhaps that’s why, just as November is siphoning off the last bits of my energy, I always start looking for ways to fill up — ways to get my glow back.

I notice and recommit to the self-care rituals I’ve somehow let slide:

morning yoga, supergreen smoothies, lemon balm tea, lavender baths, alone time, meditation. I reclaim Sundays as a day of rest. Once a month, I get a facial and let myself fall dead asleep on my aesthetician’s table. It all helps.

And every year, I also make a sincere effort to get out of town for a few days, or to at least schedule some “away time” that I know will, in the near future, put some distance between me and my daily grind. Inevitably, this means creating space by canceling some of the other things I’d planned to do or accomplish.

It’s a tough but necessary tradeoff: I sacrifice the satisfaction of completing a handful of to-dos in exchange for the sanity, energy and equanimity I need to do the things that really matter. And, oh yeah, to enjoy my life while I’m at it.

One of my favorite refill strategies involves getting away to a place that specializes in quietude and restoration. We’ve written about many of these places in stories like “Design Your Own Retreat” (November 2009), “Journey to Self-Discovery” (January 2009), and “A Clean Getaway” (April 2011). Some of my favorites include Kripalu, Omega Institute — and, ah yes, Rancho La Puerta.

Earlier this year, I paid my first visit to “the Ranch,” as it’s affectionately known, and experienced a whole-person reboot more restive and extraordinary than I can adequately describe. The fitness classes and life-wisdom programs were superb. The healthy organic food was amazing. The spa treatments and bodywork were blissful. But it was something about the natural beauty, intimacy and holism of this magical place that left me transformed for the better, and I vowed I would go back soon.

I am going back, as it happens, in  February — this time for a combination of work and play. I’m teaching a weeklong workshop there, called “Refine Your Life.” It’s a short-form version of a six-week program I developed years ago, and the whole point of the experience is to consider how you might make your already-great life even better.

Together, a small group of us will explore our values, our visions, our goals. We’ll create energizing action plans for making progress and overcoming obstacles. And we’ll do all this while simultaneously immersing ourselves in a wash of sensory delights — from thoughtfully prepared meals to introspective walks on the oak-shaded labyrinth.

Of course, not everyone has the time and fiscal resources to make a trip like this one happen. (If you’re one of the lucky who might, see for more info.) And not everyone is inclined to do so. But I think any of us who can find some way to integrate the spirit of generous self-care into our lives stands to benefit from it — and when we do, those around us benefit, too.

In this issue, we’ve gathered up all kinds of resources to help you take stock of where you are now, to take steps toward where you want to be, and to take better care of yourself every step along the way.
Good self-care is not all about spa getaways, obviously. It starts with far more basic considerations, like: Am I respecting my body’s most fundamental needs and processes? Am I on a path to making the healthy changes I want to make? And am I giving my best energy to the things that matter most?

However you choose to take stock, however you choose to refill your energetic coffers, I hope you find some satisfying way during this busy season to take very good care of you.

Thoughts to share?

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