The holiday season is a time for merriment, family gatherings and (giving) consumerism. For most it is a joyous, stressful time. Our calendars are booked weeks in advance with all the places we are supposed to go and things we should be enjoying. The hustle and bustle of the days are spent preparing, eating unhealthy food and teetering on the edge of burn-out. It’s the time when depression is at its peak. If you don’t have family or loved one around it can be a time of udder sadness and loneliness. There are expectation to live up to and so many things to buy. Here are a few self-care ideas to help you navigate the most wonderful time of the year.
Live within your means:
There is a lot of pressure to give gifts for everyone is your family, at work and to the stranger ringing a bell in front of the grocery store. If your family is anything like mine you’ve got a ton of nieces, nephews, siblings, parental figures and you don’t want to leave out grandma and grandpa. It can have you seeing nothing but $$$$. Exceptions are high and you don’t want to disappoint. I get it. You are conditioned to feel that way, it’s hard to avoid. The holiday season should not put you into debt. No way! Set a budget for yourself and stick to it. If it means that everyone doesn’t get something from you, so what. Don’t put yourself into the red because society told you it’s the thing to do. Give because you want to, not because you feel you should. Everyone loves a few kind words. I would rather receive that then a gift that is obviously generic. If I get stinky lotion, I know you don’t know me and you were just checking my name off of a list. Gifts that are handmade and come from the heart are a sure win. There will never be another one like it and you can feel the love that was put into it.
Make Your Own Traditions:
My entire extended family celebrates Christmas, most of them aren’t even religious. Why do they celebrate it then? Because their parents did before them and their grandparents before them. It’s a tradition, fun right. Well, maybe it’s not working for you. I have a hard time just going though the motions because that’s just the way things always have been. If it’s not working for you, change it. I’m not into lying to my kids about a fat jolly man giving them presents if they’ve been good. Not into the birth of Jesus, sorry. I’m not saying anything is wrong with that, it just doesn’t resonate with me. I still like to get together with my family, enjoy the season, giving and eating wonderful food. Those are things I’d like to embrace. So how do I encompass all those things into something that feels right to me? It all starts with my little family and creating a tradition that works for us. We celebrate winter and the return of the light. We volunteer at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day. It’s important to me to teach my kids what giving really looks like and not just material bullshit that will be forgotten about a month after they receive it. You can start your own traditions that are meaningful to you and yours.
This is permission for you to say “no”. When you really listen to what it is your body needs to stay happy and healthy you may find that means some alone time. You don’t have to host that party or even go to that party. Do the things that have you excited and will fill up your cup. If you’re left emotionally drained, that is a sure sign that you’re doing to much. Flexing your “no” muscle gets easier. If you align yourself with what it is you’re looking to get out of this holiday season, it will be easier to decipher if you should do the thing or not.
Move Your Body:
Don’t just wait until January to start caring for yourself again. Regular exercise is one of the biggest things you can do for yourself to keep your mental health in check. It doesn’t have to crazy, just something like taking a leisurely walk after your big meal. Getting outside to move is a wonderful idea too. It can really be a challenge, especially if you live in climate that is so very cold this time of year. There is beauty to be found outdoors, no matter what the temperate is. Just dress appropriately, even if that takes you 15 minutes to do.
Everything in Moderation:
There are a lot of strong feelings around the holidays. It can be a lot easier to slip into excess of emotional drinking and eating to cope with them. It’s way easier to do then to feel those feelings. Well, they aren’t going to disappear until you feel them. Don’t mask it with destructive behaviors. Maybe that means having a hard conversation but then you may not need pie for breakfast. If you’re inner world is peaceful, you won’t be looking for something external to make you happy.
May this holiday season bring you much love and happiness.