Which one represents you? “Yay it’s the holidays!” Or “Ugh, it’s the holidays.” If you are more the latter, this is not your favorite time of year. For many people, stress is an undeniable factor in creating a hotbed of burn out surrounding the holiday season. But, in the infallible words of Cousin Eddie (via Christmas Vacation), “Don’t forget a little somethin’ for you, Clark.”
And by “something” we mean a whole bunch of self-care
You see, the holidays don’t have to be such a drain on your reserves, but it will take some planning and intentional decision making to glide through them unscathed, especially if you have added stresses such as family tension, sick or aging loved ones, or financial woes. This is where self-care needs to go from the superficial wine night to a deeper and more nourishing system of stress relief.
1. Get better at saying “No”
While many of us have a tricky relationship with the word “no,” it can be one of your best friends during the busy holiday season. We don’t need to attend every party, or buy every person we know a dazzling gift. Sure, it is tempting to pour out as much love and joy as we can during the holidays, but nothing can flow from an empty cup. Instead of offering to host all the things or do all the baking or buy all the gifts, be intentional and mindful about what you are willing to take on.
More “no’s” may not sound like a great way to make everyone happy, and you’re right, it isn’t. But creating some boundaries for yourself such as “I don’t want to host the holiday party this year, but I am happy to help with decorations,” can really help you feel less stressed and more present during the party itself.
2. Find time for enjoyment
What do you absolutely love doing? Figure it out and do more of it. Try to take some time to enjoy your life this holiday season. You will find when you give yourself room to pause and relax, gratitude naturally arises. Is there anything better than being grateful for all our blessings during the holidays?
3. Give a little
You may be a giver at heart (and maybe you give too much, which is why you need some self-care), but going to the other extreme of hoarding all your love, joy, and time will only make you feel steeled against the beauty of the season. Find one worthy cause you would like to help with, figure out just how much time, money, or heart you have available, and then give yourself the gift of making a difference. You can even recruit your kids or family to help. Caring for others and giving our energy to help make the world a better place is a deep act of love capable of filling our hearts.
4. Spend a little less
If you find yourself worrying about finances this time of year, going big on holiday purchases will only add to your stress. Sometimes taking good care of yourself means sitting down with your budget and a heaping dose of honesty. Figure out what you are able to spend and then stick to that number so you can breathe easier once the holidays have passed.
5. Take care of your body
Winter’s cold and winter colds are rampant this time of year. Self-care goes beyond a warm bath (although this is a great idea for taking care of your body), and encompasses eating right to boost your immune system and overall health. Too much alcohol, sugar, or fatty foods can lead to imbalance. Instead, try to opt for delicious, whole foods such as fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Making it to the holiday finish line without the usual burn out may seem like a superhuman feat, but it just takes some methodical self-care practices. Set boundaries for yourself and your family so that you can enjoy all those moments and memories together in a more present and less rushed sort of way!
And if you need more than these self-care tips, check in with our friends over at the Healthy365 Connection Center for free and confidential services available to all Hancock County residents.