At the risk of stating the obvious, life is hectic during the holidays. Too many tasks. Too little time. Too much to eat. Too much to do for others. And not enough emotional and physical care for yourself. Some people never think of themselves during the holidays and it’s precisely when you’re too busy that you need to pause for a time-out.
If you don’t administer some self-care, you risk burnout or worse, snapping at some innocent family member unintentionally. Because you’re exhausted and nobody’s perfect. So take stock before you get caught up in a swirl of frenzied activities.
- Prioritize time for yourself. A friend plays tennis every Sunday afternoon. Her family knows this is her passion and her tennis time is non-negotiable. Even during the holidays when other events conflict, she never shortchanges her tennis time. It’s sacrosanct because it’s her way of recharging herself and giving herself an emotional lift while staying in shape. It’s actually not much time in the scheme of things. And it would be so easy to fudge every once and awhile. But it’s especially important not to during the holidays.
- Own your feelings. There will be conflicts or the potential for conflicts. Many people’s natural reaction is to eat or drink too much. Before you reach for the spiked eggnog, catch yourself. Recognize your anxiety is a natural response to the situation you’re in and accept how you feel. Maybe the holidays make you think of loved ones who are no longer around. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to talk about someone you miss. You don’t need to be ho-ho-ho-ing all the time.
- Schedule some alone time. During the holidays it’s a good idea to have some time alone to read, do yoga, watch old movies—whatever gives you pleasure. You need some time to just do what you want and replenish yourself. Find a spot in the schedule where you can be deliberate about doing something for yourself.
- Take a spa break. Whether you polish your own nails or go out to have it done, pamper yourself. Take along a friend or treat your daughter. Consider doing this if you’re a man, too. Well-manicured nails are good for all genders. Or consider treating yourself to a massage or any other spa services that make you feel good.
- Be in the now. So much planning goes into making the holidays perfect that sometimes you’re just thinking about the next thing on the agenda. Slow down. Try to be in the present and soak up the great stuff that’s happening in the moment. Remember perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be. An imperfect moment of joy will lift your spirits.
- Practice gratitude. This is pretty standard advice, and there’s a reason for it. Being grateful is always a good idea. Research shows that just thinking about what you’re grateful for creates stronger positive pathways to your brain. And while everyone has difficulties to overcome, focusing on the positive will give you a better sense of well-being. So delight in the way the sun rays filter through the clouds. Take joy in the enchantment of children as they see holiday lights. When you think about what you have to be grateful for, you will probably have a long list.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact