It’s beginning to look a lot like.. a wonderful, busy, joyful, stressful time of year! This time of year is my favorite – give me all the Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra Christmas songs… I love when the weather starts to turn and a general magic fills the air.
It’s also hectic! Plans and parties creep up on the calendar, stores are busier, traffic takes over. Here are 11 tips to help you enjoy this holiday season without stretching yourself too thin!
General Self Care
It’s really easy to put your needs on the back burner when things get busy. Make it a priority this year for you to make sure your needs are met first. That means getting a good nights sleep, drinking plenty of water, and lessening stress as much as possible. Show yourself heaps of patience and extend that kindness to others, even if they cut you off in traffic or try to skip you in line. Just take a deep breath, channel your inner Elsa and let it go!
It’s Okay to Say No
There is a lot of pressure to do all the things and see everyone you love within a very short window. There can also be pressure to contribute to every bake sale and gift pool. Believe me, I know how hard it is to say no, especially around this time of year, but it’s not always possible to make every event or say yes to every obligation – and there’s no reason to feel guilty about that. Whether you don’t feel well enough to attend, aren’t able to make the drive, have other commitments or simply have a lot going on, it’s okay to take the time you need for yourself. You can also…
Make Alternatives to Plans
Try something different for your gatherings like volunteering as a group or experiencing an event together! If you aren’t up for making big parties, you could always opt for low-key gatherings, like midweek dinners or weekend brunches. Or reschedule for after the peak holiday season – I personally don’t mind keeping the spirit alive into the new year!
Rest – Regardless of Where
The more active we are, the more we’ll need to rest. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you, whether you’re home or not. Maybe everyone’s standing in the kitchen and you need to sit down or you need to put your feet up instead of sitting at the dining table long after dinner is finished or you’re in need of some quiet alone time – do it! Don’t be afraid to express your needs or worry what others will think. Go for a quick stroll alone or with a buddy, or simply say something like “I want to keep catching up, but I need to go sit down. Let’s get cozy on the couch, so I can hear about your new job!”
Keep Routines as Best You Can
Having a few daily routines are key any day of the year. Keeping up with our routines, even on a smaller scale, helps to combat stress of everyday life, especially during busy times. I try to squeeze at least a couple off my list of favorites. If you can, do simple things like journaling before you head out to celebrations. If your plans are earlier in the day, try getting home at a decent hour so you can have a cup of herbal tea or stretch before bed.
Enjoy What You’re Eating
Seriously! It makes me so sad when people, mostly women, feel they need to justify why they are eating a cookie. “I’ll be ‘good’ tomorrow!”. That is wrong! That is diet culture at its finest, though that will be a post for another time. There is no reason you need to feel guilt for thoroughly enjoying your food. But also don’t feel you have to over indulge for the sake of it (meaning being guilted into extra courses when you’re already full – that kind of thing!). If you have specific food restrictions, bring your own food or eat before. Remind the host it’s not personal!
Avoid Gifting Stress
I have a whole post here for you!
Whether you’re traveling across the country or keeping visits local, make sure you’re prepared with anything you may need. Just like you’d pack a bag for a child, ha! But honestly, have a bag with extra snacks, water and medications with you. I like to also include cozy socks and anything else to be comfortable!
Not All Topics Need to be on the Table
…and that’s okay. You really don’t need a reason for not engaging in conversations that make you uncomfortable from your political views to relationship status to health. It can be uneasy, but just like you shouldn’t feel guilty about saying no to plans, don’t worry about this one either. Change the subject, don’t contribute to the conversation or say something like “I’m taking a day off from talking about that!”. If all else fails, simply excuse yourself to the bathroom.
Commit to Being Present
If you’re hosting, try organizing some games to get the whole family involved or even have a “no phone at the table” rule. Of course, snap some pictures, but leave your phone alone otherwise so you can really be present with your loved ones. Life is so short and precious – Instagram can wait.
Pause for Gratitude
Everything starts and ends with gratitude in my book! So take some time in the midst of the chaos to pause for what you’re grateful for. Even giving thanks for blessings as simple as our breath, homes, food, selves and loved ones can help put some of the stresses of this time of year into perspective.
Maybe you will be misunderstood for some ways you need to practice your self care this season, but regardless of what the holidays will look like for you, remember you are loved and valued!