Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year…or is it? The holidays are supposed to be filled with fond memories, get-togethers with loved ones, and laughter, but for many people it can feel quite daunting. Can you relate? Even holiday lovers like myself have moments where it’s not all glitz and glory. With holiday blues, financial pressure, and increased demands, it’s easy to feel like our self-care has to be sacrificed. To top it off, we’re in the midst of a pandemic with no end in sight. Not only do holidays look different in terms of who we spend it with but also in how we spend them altogether. If you’re feeling the weight of this holiday season, dread falling out of the routine you just got in the groove of, or are overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do list: this is for you. As the queen Glennon Doyle says: we can do hard things; like getting through the season without it getting to the best of us.
Being busier doesn’t give you permission to neglect everything that brings you joy. In fact, at this time, you need your healthy habits more than ever. The key? Create condensed habits. Maybe you’re less likely to sit in traffic for an hour, thanks holiday shopping, to make it to your routine pilates class. But you CAN do a quick citation in your living room, walk around your backyard or run up and down your driveway. If I can’t get in my daily workout routine, I try to at least make some time in my day to walk or jog around the block.
No, seriously — unplug. With all of the extra noise this time of the year, it’s easy to dismiss how much of our self-care time we’re actually sacrificing.
Whether you’re spending more time on social media or communicating with people more frequently, set clear boundaries for yourself. Let’s clarify. This doesn’t mean forgetting about the world and going MIA on anything and anyone you’ve ever loved. This does mean that you are allowed a period of time where no one can make you feel bad for not responding right away. At any other time of the year, I’d feel a social obligation to respond to my messages and check in with friends before I could relax aka scroll on Tik Tok endlessly. With extra pressures this season from meeting work deadlines and keeping my home clean to showing up for my loved ones…and showing up for myself, I knew fulfilling all of my social obligations would fizzle out quick. I felt bad about this until I realized 3 things that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Could I meet up for brunch this Saturday? Probably. But if it’ll make me feel twice as exhausted than I feel at the moment, it’s not worth it.
If you don’t put yourself first, especially during the holiday season, who will? In reality, we all have a lot going on regardless of what it looks like from the surface. It’s up to you to be proactive about fulfilling your needs before it becomes isolating. I promise that putting yourself first at this time of the year won’t make you look selfish. The people who don’t understand this, don’t need a seat at the table.
Instead of focusing on what you could do better had you taken care of it yourself, ponder on the fact that you don’t have to. At this time of year, help is limited. If someone’s lending a helping hand or ear, why turn that down so all the weight can fall on your shoulders? Reality is: even if you did that task all by yourself, it still wouldn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. So relieve yourself of some of the burden and create memories you can look back on with positive sentiments.
Truthfully, even if you’re surrounding by loved ones, you may also be sharing the holidays with someone who doesn’t bring you the most joy. First, differentiate the situation. Is this someone who creates an unhealthy environment for you? Or is this someone you just don’t feel the closest to at the moment? If you truly feel negative in a certain environment or around a certain individual, communicate your boundaries ahead of time and create a clear exit plan. If this is someone you may be on the rocks with or are feeling distant from, create a plan of tolerance. Now is not the time to hash out any lingering feelings. Keep your energy positive and light. Whenever you feel yourself seeping into a negative mindset, change the conversation or walk away without pettiness.
It’s likely that you’ll encounter at least one conversation that feels invasive, inappropriate, and/or unnecessary. The perfect part about this? You have the power to control how you respond. Some things simply don’t require defensive energy, especially if it’s going to put you in a bad mood. Instead, if you notice yourself beginning to shut down, feel overwhelmed, or burnt out from a conversation, change the tone. The ball is in your court and 9 times out of 10, if someone’s making you feel this way — they know it. The good news is that nothing in life is personal unless you allow it to be. Instead flip the tables back on them and ask them follow up questions…to their initial question…that encourage stories instead of clear-cut responses.
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